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Generative Artificial Intelligence and Copyright : Referencing

A guide for University staff and students on the copyright implications of Using Generative AI tools.

How do I reference use of Gen-AI?

When using Gen-AI tools in preparing work for assessment, or in a scholarly article or other academic work it is important to understand its limitations, critically evaluate any output it produces and document how you have used it.  You should ensure that you check any guidelines for assessment to determine whether and to what extent you are permitted to use Gen-AI tools and, to avoid any breach of academic integrity, acknowledge which Gen-AI tools have been used, for what purpose and cite the content using your Faculty’s /Department’s preferred referencing style. 

For many referencing styles, there are no specific guidelines for citing ChatGPT or other generative AI. Content from Gen-AI is a nonrecoverable source as it cannot be retrieved or linked. It is recommended to base the referencing for Gen-AI content on the reference style for personal communications or correspondence unless the referencing style has specific guidelines.  

For example to reference a Generative AI image in Harvard (Strathclyde) style:

Citation (usually as a note under the image): Image generated by Image Creator from Designer, 7th December 2023. Prompt: a black and white vector of a sewage pipe with wastewater flow into the environment. Make it a very simple vector without any background or side feature shown. 

Reference: Microsoft Bing (2023) Image Creator from Designer. Response to prompt made by Alasdair Stewart, 7th December 2023

For referencing CHAT GPT or other AI in APA style an adaptation of the referencing template for software is used: How to cite ChatGPT ( which involves crediting the AI model as author along with the year of the version used.  You may also provide further details on how you used the AI tool in an Appendix.  

For example: 

In-text citation: When prompted with ‘Is the left brain right brain divide real or a metaphor?’ the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that although the two brain hemispheres are somewhat specialized, ‘the notation that people can be characterized as ‘left-brained’ or ‘right brained’ is considered to be an oversimplification and a popular myth’ (OpenAI, 2023).  

Reference: OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model]. 

If you are writing for publication, it is advisable to check the publisher's information for authors to determine whether content generated using Gen AI tools is permitted and any guidelines for referencing.