Science journals ban ChatGPT from co-authoring papers

However, some journals allow researchers to use AI to improve the readability and language of the research.
Ameya Paleja
OpenAI ChatGPT seen on mobile with AI Brain seen on screen. on 22 January 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
OpenAI ChatGPT seen on mobile with AI Brain seen on screen. on 22 January 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.

Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images 

ChatGPT, the conversational chatbot from OpenAI might have authored many poems, essays, and even pieces of code so far but is unlikely to get author credit for a peer-reviewed paper anytime soon.

Major science publishing houses like Springer Nature and Elsevier have specified that they will not consider ChatGPT as an author in their publications, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

Since its launch in November last year, ChatGPT has responded to the queries of millions of users whether they pertain to explaining complex definitions or writing an essay in the style of a literary figure and much more. If college students ordered assignment essays on the chatbot, then researchers, too, weren't far behind and sought help to write academic papers.

While student writings were allegedly presented as their own, researchers gave credit to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool and listed it as a co-author prior to the publication.

Some of the pieces clearly identified the contributions of the chatbot, while others simply regarded the tool as an overall contributor.

Science publishers reject AI as an author

Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of the leading journal Nature, told The Verge that the publication's stance rose from the fact that an author does not just write a research paper but also assumes multiple roles in the research such as designing experiments, conducting them as well as corresponding with other scientists and the press to explain their findings. Since the AI is not capable of doing this, the publisher does not look at it as someone that deserves the credit.

Another publication major, Elsevier told The Guardian that its guidelines allowed researchers to use AI to improve the readability and language of the research article but did not allow it to be used to interpret data and draw scientific conclusions.

Skipper agreed and said that AI tools provide a great leveling opportunity to researchers for whom English is not the first language.

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What about college essays?

While there are multiple checkpoints for a research publication, using an AI tool for college essay submission can go undetected and even give an unfair advantage to those with access to it.

Educational institutions though have already woken up to the possibility and have begun to revise their curricula to ensure that students find it more difficult to use technology as a replacement for their own work.

Jeffrey Duerk, provost at the University of Miami has used ChatGPT himself and found it an excellent study aid.

In a post explaining the impact of tools like ChatGPT on high education, Duerk said that the tool could help a student break the logjam of understanding a topic since it was not just referring the student to a website.

Comparing the AI tool to a calculator during his own school days, Duerk recollected the opposition to the use o the technology then. Years later, calculators and even computers have only been able to quicken the pace of research, rather than replace the researchers.

For students reading this, Duerk had two warnings. One, ChatGPT is not foolproof and can contain factual errors.

Second that even if a student succeeded in presenting a ChatGPT-generated essay as his own work, he/she would not only be cheating himself but also "mistaking a grade with knowledge."

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