Whilst ChatGPT is an impressively sophisticated language AI, it is not entirely without issues. Work written with ChatGPT can be detected by plagiarism software such as Turnitin, and academic institutions are doling out harsher and harsher penalties for using AI in writing work.
Though AI language models like ChatGPT are great for checking grammar, there are some notable pitfalls to using them in an academic context. It can be easy, even by accident, to trigger plagiarism alerts in your work. So is there a way to use ChatGPT in a useful and academically sound manner?
How Does Turnitin Detect ChatGPT?
Turnitin is the flagship plagiarism checker used by most colleges and universities. When ChatGPT became popular, concerns were raised by academic bodies about AI’s ability to write large quantities of text without effort or citation. OpenAI stated that ChatGPT doesn’t plagiarize, but the way that ChatGPT sources its information makes it at once difficult to verify and very clearly unoriginal.
Turnitin can detect ChatGPT and other AI language systems through new integrated software, which can accurately identify AI-written pieces with 98% certainty. Turnitin CEO Chris Caren stated:
“As an academic integrity company, we advocate for the responsible use of AI. When leveraged skillfully, we see AI potentially being used as a learning aid and intermediary tool that may even facilitate deeper intellectual inquiry. We’re focused on all possible current and evolving use cases for AI writing tools, considering both the positive and negative implications of these tools.”Chris Caren, Turnitin
This approach to AI is reflected in the software, as Turnitin uses a form of AI in its algorithm for plagiarism detection, meaning that schools can see if a student uses ChatGPT for a paper. It isn’t completely perfect, with some evidence of Turnitin creating false positives and flagging work incorrectly, but instances of this are rare and growing rarer.
Can Universities Detect ChatGPT?
Almost every College or University uses a form of plagiarism software (such as Turnitin) that checks your work whenever it is uploaded for marking. In the wake of AI language models, these have become ChatGPT detectors: able to flag work that is AI-generated.
Schools can detect ChatGPT through software, but your teachers or professors can also tell if something was written by ChatGPT quite easily. The language model used by AIs interprets information based on a wide range of data. Even with a hyper-specific prompt, you can end up with a generic essay that’s easy to spot.
Is ChatGPT Good for Schools?
There are actually many benefits to using AI language models in education. As mentioned, it is handy for doing basic corrections to spelling and grammar, along with suggesting tools for improvement as other word processor software does. With GPT-4, image input technology was added to the AI which allows the software to read and identify elements of an image and turn it into text: a game-changer for accessibility. With the basic models of ChatGPT being free to use, there are strong arguments in favor of its use as an assistive tool.
Where colleges and schools are concerned, however, is in the academic sphere of writing. Papers, presentations, or any other kind of text can be written using ChatGPT – even code. It can easily be used to cheat or rush assignments. Though it is easy even without Turnitin to spot ChatGPT essays (though technically correct, the base software generally isn’t smart enough to write anything above a C-grade), the concern lies more with students able to avoid the work of their colleagues.
How to Avoid Plagiarism with ChatGPT
Whilst ChatGPT is good for proofing work, it isn’t as good for writing anything academically sound and accurate. You can use it to neaten up your papers or write-ups, but the best way to avoid plagiarism with ChatGPT is to write it yourself.
Whilst an AI can’t tell between gathering information and plagiarizing, it is much easier to make that distinction yourself. You can use ChatGPT in all manner of helpful ways, such as improving wording or clarity, and the software can even help you cite sources correctly. In academia, plagiarism is a serious issue, and your school or college won’t hesitate to penalize you if you are caught doing it. Better to be safe than sorry: don’t let ChatGPT write your essay for you!
Yes: If a source is available online, Turnitin can check it against your work and flag it for plagiarism. If it is a quote or passage you are including, make sure to cite your source.
You can use the free version of ChatGPT by providing your name, email address and date of birth. Though it is less advanced than the premium GPT-3 or GPT-4, you can still use it for text-based prompts.
Whilst ChatGPT is an incredibly versatile and accessible language AI, schools and colleges can detect its use in essays, papers, or reports. For the best results, you can use ChatGPT for proofreading, for inspiration, and even for research: what an AI chooses to relay on a topic can be quite insightful. However, avoid letting it generate whole essays, as Turnitin will be able to detect ChatGPT. What’s more, relying on AI-generated content for answers or solutions may inadvertently give you a worse grade than if you had written the essay yourself!