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Winter 2024 Library Service Updates

How To Cite Sources: Citing Generative AI Sources


Welcome to the OCC Libraries guide on AI and Information Literacy!

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is a relatively new technology that is developing quickly. Like the internet in general, these AI tools, like ChatGPT, Bing AI or Google's Bard, are neither good or bad when it comes to finding and using information. Instead, they represent a new way in which we can interact with information.

This guide's intention is to help you critically engage with Generative AI and focuses on how it intersects with information literacy.

Students, please first confirm with your professor that using ChatGPT or other content produced by generative artificial intelligence (AI) is acceptable before using it for any course assignments.

Note to Students

The Library cautions the use of Generative AI works, such as ChatGPT, when completing research assignments.  Generative AI may use works from books, articles, websites and blogs to generate a response.  In many cases the sources are not properly cited in the generated text.  This is considered plagiarism.

ChatGPT and Information Literacy

Where does the information come from?

ChatGPT was trained on a body of text which allows it to generate text in response to a prompt. Some partial lists of the training dataset exist, and ChatGPT will also provide a partial list when queried. However, the entire body of text that has trained ChatGPT is unknown.

When ChatGPT provides an answer to a question, it will not immediately provide a reference for where the information came from. This is because it is pulling predictive language from a wide variety of places, so the information usually doesn't come from a single source. Because of this, you typically cannot trace the response back to a single parent source or know where the information came from.

Can ChatGPT provide references?

Yes, when prompted, ChatGPT can provide references. However, these references may not be where the information actually came from and - more importantly - may not be for real sources. Despite sounding plausible, ChatGPT can easily hallucinate citations.

Have Questions?

Let's learn more about ChatGPT and Generative AI together! The OCC Librarians are not experts on AI, but we are happy to help you explore how it intersects with information literacy. 

Please contact one of the OCC Librarians to continue the conversation or your OCC Instructor for further guidance. 


Some of the content from this Guide is courtesy of Amy Scheelke, Librarian at Salt Lake Community College

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