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Generative AI

Referencing generative AI

Can I use generative AI for referencing?

Generative AI tools can be asked to provide references or citations – however these are often created based simply on what would look like a valid reference. If you ask an AI tool to provide a list of references or readings, the list it provides may not be real.

How do I reference something created by generative AI?

There are no specific guidelines for citing ChatGPT or other generative AI in Harvard style. This is interim advice only and subject to change.

We recommend that you base the reference for generative AI content on the referencing guidance for

  • Personal communication - if you are using generative AI to assist with your assignment.
  • Computer software - when you have been specifically asked to use generative AI in your assignment.

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT cannot accurately cite their own sources. Any references they provide may be false or non-existent – you should always check the original source for any references that are generated.

References should provide clear and accurate information for each source and should identify where they have been used in your work.


Where you have used generative AI to assist you with your assignment, you usually should acknowledge this. An acknowledgement might look something like this:

Whilst the writing is my own and I take responsibility for all errors, ChatGPT was used to create the initial section structure for this essay.

In other cases it may be more appropriate to acknowledge your use of generative AI tools in a way more akin to a “methods” section of a research paper:

Initial text provided using ChatGPT. (2023, February 14). Prompt: “What procedures should be taken to avoid the mis-use of generative A.I. in education”. Or First draft of introduction generated by Microsoft Word Editor Summary tool. (2023, February 14).

This information is based on

Please check with your lecturer / subject coordinator in regards to the placement of your acknowledgement in your assignment.  If no guidance is given, place the acknowledgement between the title and the first paragraph of your assignment.

More information about generative artificial intelligence:

In text referencing

Communicator Year pers. comm., Day Month.

(Paraphrase from OpenAI's ChatGPT AI language model 2023 pers. comm., 3 March)

  • Since the information [from generative AI] is not recoverable, it is best cited as personal communications. As such it should not be included in the Reference List. Cite them in-text only.
  • Provide the name of the source and and the date accessed.
  • Only use a personal communication citation when a recoverable source is not available.
Reference List

Title Year, format, publisher, http://xxxxxx

ChatGPT 2022, computer software, OpenAI, <>

  • Reference entries are not required for standard software or programming languages (e.g. Microsoft Word or Excel, Java, Adobe Photoshop, or SPSS).
  • Include URL if available.