Chat GPT: Plagiarism or a Helpful Resource?


Gabby Bell, Contributor

Chat GPT is among one of the newest levels of artificial intelligence based chatbots. Despite being designed as a conversational model, ChatGPT is able to answer followup questions and provide detailed responses to user inputs. It is able to write about almost anything, and has been revealed to be used by students on homework assignments and essay writing.

In higher education, ChatGPT and other generative AI have raised questions about what can be defined as plagiarism, and the lack of integrity that is associated with work generated using these platforms. The difficulty of classifying AI as plagiarism is that the work being used is not being created, rather it is being created by “something”. If the work isn’t directly being copied from another person, students may make the judgment that using a Chatbot is not plagiarism.

ChatGPT will typically produce a generic and poorly written response. A student’s use of AI for essay writing becomes unbearably clear when the quality of the writing is poor, lacking complexity and critical thinking. The writing produced by ChatGPT is usually choppy and disorganized with a lack of flow and basic grammatical structure. Oftentimes, students will submit work created by artificial intelligence without prior revision.

Here at the University of Minnesota and other large institutions, departments are already cracking down on the use of ChatGPT and other AI. Online submission bases like are expanding and continuing to improve their AI detection system. As a result, making it harder to submit work that may have been computer generated.  At the same time, students have begun questioning the integrity of peers that may be submitting writing that is not their original work. The use of university resources to make their paper sound more human-like has become alarming, especially here at U. 

At the University of Minnesota Law School, ChatGPT passed all four final exams it took. Fox 9 reported that the chatbot finished behind most humans that took the test, but earned a C+ average on final exams. The interesting thing about it is that the system is able to create work without leaving a trace that it was performed by artificial intelligence. 

It is difficult to make the claim that ChatGPT is plagiarism when the definition of plagiarism is subjective in and of itself. But the text produced could contain re-used phrases, solidifying the argument. In addition, the leveraging of it for school work and other tasks when other students are doing the same, increases the likelihood of the document appearing similar to another students’.

It further raises the question of whether students should be allowed to use university writing resources to “de-plagiarize” their work. 

At what point should these same resources be able to reject any students that could be suspected of using AI for academic purposes? Then, if students do decide to use AI for their writing, is it fair to those that put effort into generating their own creative work? 

Generative AI ideally serves as a resource for students that use it for its intended purpose; a tool for research, spell checking, and calculator functions. The perspective students hold depends on how they themselves decide to use the site, and the academic standards they uphold to themselves and students around them. With the normalization of AI and ChatGPT, it would not be a surprise if universities began implementing strategies to crack down on students taking advantage of the lack of awareness surrounding the topic. 

As the development of generative AI is ongoing, it would be no surprise if university protocols made it harder for students to submit computer generated work. New York Public Schools has already banned ChatGPT because of cheating concerns. Other public school districts and universities have begun including AI as a form of academic dishonesty in their code of conduct.

The other danger of ChatGPT is the amount of misinformation formulated within the responses. Chatbots have the potential to share conspiracy theories in credible and persuasive ways. If students are using ChatGPT for academic purposes, it may 

Though it is quick and efficient, it is important for students in higher education to develop writing skills that will help them in other areas of their education and future careers. Systems like ChatGPT can have a negative impact on student learning, and raise concerns about the safety and legitimacy of student writing and its accuracy.