The rise of generative AI (AI that produces text, images, or other media in response to prompts, such as ChatGPT) has opened up many possibilities for writers. For students, it has huge potential when it comes to writing papers and essays. But how to use it wisely and effectively?

Which AI tools are best for academic writing?

ChatGPT, the conversational bot everyone’s talking about, can be used to assist scientific writing. From drafting a text, answering questions, summarizing articles from various disciplines, highlighting research gaps, to finding academic papers, its capabilities are wide-ranging and powerful. This writer, an applied linguist, tested it on its knowledge of formulaic language and was surprised by the quality of the answer.

Writefull’s generative AI widgets, such as the Title Generator and Abstract Generator, produce parts of a paper based on its abstract or body. Combining models from both OpenAI and Writefull, Writefull’s TexGPT generates tables, figures, formulas, statements and explanations within Overleaf (a LaTeX editor). Writefull’s output is no doubt more limited than that of ChatGPT, but it is more tailored to the content at hand.

Both ChatGPT and Writefull have potential to make scientific writing faster and easier.

What are the pitfalls of using generative AI for academic writing?

The two biggest concerns around using AI for academic writing are plagiarism and misinformation.

Plagiarism refers to the practice of using somebody else’s work without acknowledging it. When re-using ChatGPT’s output, you are using something that isn’t your work and passing it as your own. Even if it’s not the work of another human being, it still counts as a breach of academic integrity.

Another danger of incorporating generative AI into your academic texts is repeating false information. Erroneous content can then spread to other papers, and ‘contaminate’ the field. Remember that ChatGPT doesn’t know right from wrong. All it can do is learn from the internet, biases and ‘fake news’ included.

How to make the best use of AI for my scientific texts?

Use ChatGPT as a first port of call to generate ideas, but don’t just copy-paste its output into your text. Use your own words and sentences. Also, acknowledge credit where it is due.

If you’re not confident in your grammar and word use, it’s completely fine to use AI-based tools for help. Language proofreading tools (think of Writefull’s automated copyediting, Paraphraser, or Academizer widgets) are widely available, and unlike ChatGPT, don’t produce ideas to ‘steal’ from.

Always keep in mind the risk of spreading false claims through generative AI. Check the accuracy of any information or figures presented by checking primary sources. Don’t take anything at face value and remain skeptical, the same way you would with claims made in other research papers.

Want to learn more about the best ways to use AI in your writing? Register for our forthcoming webinar.