ChatGPT makes universities rethink plagiarism

8 months ago
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While Daley acknowledges that this technological growth is raising new concerns in academia, she doesn’t see it as a completely uncharted territory. “I think we’ve been in this territory for a while now,” Daley says. “Students who plagiarize often take material from somewhere, such as a website that does not have clear attribution. I suspect that the definition of plagiarism will expand to include what produces.”

In the end, according to the Daily, a student using text from ChatGPT will be no different than someone copying and pasting snippets of text from Wikipedia without attribution.

What students think about ChatGPT is another matter entirely. There are those like Cobbs who can’t imagine their name being spelled by a bot, but there are others who see it as just another tool, like a spell checker or even a calculator. For Brown University sophomore Jacob Gelman, ChatGPT exists merely as a convenient research aid and nothing more.

“Calling the use of ChatGPT to extract trusted sources from the Internet is a ‘scam’ is absurd. It’s like saying that using the Internet to conduct research is unethical,” says Gelman. “For me, ChatGPT is the research equivalent [typing assistant] grammatically. I use it for practicality, that’s all.” Cobbs expressed a similar sentiment, comparing an AI bot to an “online encyclopedia”.

But while students like Gelman use the bot to speed up research, others use the high-throughput fast input feature to create completed papers to submit. It may seem obvious what qualifies as cheating here, but different schools around the country offer opposing views.

According to Carly Warfield, chairman of the Bryn Mawr College Student Council of Honor, the school considers any use of these AI platforms to be plagiarism. Popularizing the tool simply requires more attention to assessing the intent behind student misbehavior. Warfield explains that students who turn in essays entirely AI-generated are starkly different from those who borrow from online tools without knowing the standard citations. Because the ChatGPT phenomenon is still new, students’ confusion about work ethics is understandable. And, since ChatGPT is still so new, it’s unclear what policies will remain in place when the dust settles – in any school.

In the midst of fundamental changes in both the academic and technological arenas, universities are being forced to rethink their definitions of academic integrity to reasonably reflect the circumstances of society. The only problem is that the society does not show stagnation.

“Villanova’s current code of academic integrity will be updated to include language prohibiting the use of these tools to create text that students then submit as self-created text,” Daley explained. “But I think it’s an evolving thing. And what he can do, and what we then need to follow, will also be a kind of moving target.

In addition to the increasingly difficult questions about whether ChatGPT is a research tool or a plagiarism mechanism, there is also the possibility that it can be used for teaching. In other educational institutions, teachers see this as a way to educate students about the shortcomings of AI. Some instructors are already change the way they teach giving students tasks that bots cannot complete, such as those that require personal data or anecdotes. There is also the problem of detecting the use of AI in student work, which is booming handicraft industry all his own.

Ultimately, Daly says, schools may need rules that reflect a range of variables.

“My guess is that there will be some general policies that basically say that if you don’t have a professor’s permission to use AI tools, then using them will be considered a violation of the code of academic integrity,” Daly says. “Then it gives teachers ample freedom to use it in their teaching or in their assignments, as long as they explicitly stipulate that they allow it.”

As for ChatGTP, the program agrees. “Advances in areas such as artificial intelligence are expected to lead to significant innovation in the coming years,” says the response to a question about how schools can tackle academic fraud today. “Schools should continually review and update their academic honor codes as technology evolves to ensure they take into account current ways technology is used in academic settings.”

But that’s what a bot would say.

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