Generative AI and Your Writing
What is Generative AI?
Generative AI is a tool that has pulled examples and intelligence from a variety of sources across the Internet. This interactive tool can be used by anyone and you can submit requests and have quickly-written generated responses.
What are some issues to be aware of?
Software like ChatGPT has been documented as providing false information, sources that don’t exist, or fabricating information to respond to the prompt. This means that you can’t rely on this technology as your sole source of information and need to be knowledgeable about your topic as well as do your own research.
We do not recommend putting your document into ChatGPT for feedback, as in this area it is not finely tuned enough to understand larger contexts, keep unique voice, or provide suggestions about what is clear to an individual reader or what will meet faculty writing expectations
If you are relying on a generative AI to write the words you present as your own in class, that is not ethical without attribution. Just like purchasing an essay or asking someone else to write your paper, allowing AI to write your work without acknowledgement doesn’t align with MTU’s academic integrity standards. Talk to your faculty member if you have specific questions about how you may or may not use generative AI for your coursework.
Because generative AI is drawing from the Internet, it is not necessarily pulling from accurate or unbiased sources. It cannot detect bias or understand the larger complexities that might inform an article or source. This means that you can’t rely on it to provide you with perspectives or accurate summaries and analysis of a topic as a whole. It might be a starting point, but will require further research.
What is Generative AI Good for?
Like any writing tool, generative AI has its pitfalls, but can be a helpful tool to you if used critically, thoughtfully, and ethically. Here are some suggestions for ways it might be useful to you in conjunction with Writing Center visits, critical analysis, and collaborating with your faculty.
- Brainstorming: You can enter key words from an assignment or course reading to help come up with new ideas or understand concepts in a different way.
- Outlining: Although pretty generic, tools like ChatGPT can help create paper outlines as a space to get you started on a writing project. Use this with caution, though, as it will not understand the specifics of what your faculty is looking for.
- Examples: Generative AI can be useful in providing an example of what writing looks like in a certain venue, style, or type of assignment. While imperfect, these models can help you build confidence and understand how to apply similar approaches, language, or style expected for a particular type of writing.
What is it Not Good For?
- Meeting your assignment requirements: ChatGPT has no way of knowing what your assignment details are or what specific points would be helpful to make in your argument or assignment. ChatGPT may also make recommendations that don’t meet your assignment like “have a catchy hook”, which is generally not appropriate for academic writing.
- Generating a thesis statement: While technically ChatGPT will create a thesis statement for you, it does so in an uninformed way and will continue adding words as you ask it to revise, not necessarily to your thesis statement’s benefit.
- Writing about personal experiences: You’re the one who had the experiences in an assignment that is personal, and ChatGPT can’t write about them like you can! Use your own unique voice and perspectives, and talk to a Writing Center Coach to help understand what information is missing or what other ideas you might bring up.
- Generating sources: ChatGPT will fabricate sources that do not exist—don’t use it as a research tool.
How can I use it effectively?
If you are prepared to use generative AI with a critical lens and make adjustments, revisions, and do investigate the results, here are a few suggestions for approaches to using this tool.
- Try Giving It an Identity: Phrasing like “act as if you are” can help sources like ChatGPT respond in a certain way.
- Be Specific: Ask for a specific length or audience, put in a particular assignment prompt or rubric—the more specific, the better
- Rephrase and Refine: Critically analyze the output the AI has provided and if it’s not understanding or has presented something incorrectly, offer suggestions and revisions
- Use the Writing Center for help: Writing Center coaches are trained experts in providing writing feedback, helping you brainstorm, edit, and revise. We can also give you suggestions on how to use AI effectively as one piece of your writing process.
*The above suggestions and text are influenced and informed by work done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center (https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/generative-ai-in-academic-writing/) as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center (https://dept.writing.wisc.edu/blog/ai-wc/), and in-progress university language and approaches written by Dr. Holly Hassel (Michigan Tech)