ChatGPT - for Students

- FAQ about ChatGPT for students at USask -

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8 FAQs - Last updated Aug 08, 2023


“AI-generated text” refers to the content produced by programs and algorithms that draw on predictive technology to generate and revise many kinds of written products, including computer code. Such text is increasingly sophisticated, reflecting rapid advances in deep learning technology. Large Language Models like ChatGPT gather information from enormous sets of data and become more accomplished as users interact with the programs. AI-generated text is increasingly indistinguishable from written products created by humans.

Only use AI-generated text if given explicit permission by your instructor. Using ChatGPT or similar tools without permission risks your academic integrity.  
If you have been given permission to use AI-generated text, then you will need to cite this information so that your reader clearly understands which text was generated by a program like ChatGPT and how this text was generated (e.g., the keyword prompts that were used). For more information, refer to "How should I cite AI-generated text?”

It depends! If your instructor has explicitly stated that you can use AI-generated text in your assignment you should also ask them for formatting expectations or guidance to avoid plagiarism concerns.  You should also determine whether you can use programs like ChatGPT for other assistance (e.g., brainstorming, problem-solving). 

However, if permission has not been given or if you have not clearly attributed or cited the work, then you risk an accusation of plagiarism. 


Consider the following sections of the USask Academic Misconduct Regulations

- Regarding unauthorized/unpermitted assistance: [P. 6, point g, (i)]

“Failure to observe any stated rule with regard to the procedures used in an examination, assessment, or an activity undertaken for academic credit where such a failure could result in the student gaining relatively greater credit”

   - Regarding plagiarism: [P. 7, point l] States that plagiarism is

“the presentation of the work or idea of another in such a way as to give others the impression that it is the work or ideas of the presenter.   

Adequate attribution is required.  What is essential is that another person have no doubt which words or research results are the student's and which are drawn from other sources. Full explicit acknowledgement of the source of the material is required." 

  •  And, specifically, one example of plagiarism appears (ii) 
“The verbatim use of oral or written material without adequate attribution” 

In the same way that the technology behind programs like ChatGPT has rapidly advanced, so too have “detection” tools. At this time, use of detection tools is not recommended to instructors because of their privacy and copyright concerns (see instructor FAQ #10). Instructors will instead pay attention to how written work relates to other assessments (for example, oral presentations, class discussion, handwritten work), to completeness and accuracy, and common errors and biases that appear in AI-generated text to gauge whether academic integrity has been violated.  

Knowing when you can and cannot use AI-generated text is important for preserving academic integrity, meeting learning outcomes, and maintaining trust.

The American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the Chicago Manual of Style have all provided recommendations in this area.

Continue to:

  • review assignment instructions and use any citation guidelines provided,
  • ask your professor or instructor for clarification,
  • review style guide recommendations to stay up to date. 


If you are planning to share your research more widely, you should be aware of the norms that are developing around the use of programs like ChatGPT. For instance, the international research community has widely agreed that such programs will not be accepted as a credited author on a research or scholarly paper. This decision accounts for the very specific concept of authorship in academia.     

An author is accountable for the veracity of the published work, meaning that they must stand behind what they have produced. In contrast, tools like ChatGPT do not think and cannot manage scrutiny. They cannot design and carry out a research project or reflect on the implications of the results of such work. They cannot be asked to justify why they made one decision over another or stand up to other lines of questioning. As such they cannot be considered an author.     

Many journals are also setting guidelines about whether such programs can be used to help craft or polish a text, and, if so, the parameters of such use. For instance, Springer Nature stipulates that authors would need to document the use of programs like ChatGPT in the Methods and Acknowledgements sections of a paper.   

If you have questions about authorship practices in your discipline, field, or profession, please speak to your instructors, professors, or supervisors.   

You should also familiarize yourself with conference and journal submission guidelines. In the same way that instructors may decide to use software to detect the use of programs like ChatGPT, so too may editors and reviewers. Review these guidelines to ensure that your work is not discounted by your research community! 

Depending on the program, users may have to provide email addresses or phone numbers to access the platform. Providing such information often contains a degree of risk, especially if the company in question does not provide strong protections for users. You should always ask yourself how these companies might use your data.

For instance, OpenAI, the parent company of ChatGPT, collects a significant amount of user information. As Professor Uri Gal states:

According to the company’s privacy policy, it collects users’ IP address, browser type and settings, and data on users’ interactions with the site, including the type of content users engage with, features they use and actions they take.

It also collects information about users’ browsing activities over time and across websites. Alarmingly, OpenAI states it may share users’ personal information with unspecified third parties, without informing them, to meet their business objectives.

Gal, U. (2023, Feb 7). ChatGPT is a data privacy nightmare. If you’ve ever posted online, you ought to be concernedThe Conversation 

Privacy and data risks escalate depending on the nature of the information that you input into these programs. For instance, if you enter personal, confidential, or proprietary information, this information could then be used as output for other users.

Inputting any substantial amount of copyrighted text into a program like ChatGPT could also constitute a copyright infringement if done without permission of the copyright owner. Users are responsible for the output and ensuring it does not violate any applicable law.

It is natural to have questions about programs like ChatGPT, given their newness, power, and ability to change the way we learn and work. 
As a USask student, you should direct your questions about these programs to your professors and instructors, as these individuals will have differing opinions.  
However, given how much of the conversation about these programs has focused on questions of academic integrity and plagiarism, you may feel nervous about beginning the conversation. Here are some suggestions for talking to your professors and instructors about AI-generated text and programs like ChatGPT: 

  • What are your opinions about programs like ChatGPT?  
  • How are scholars in your field responding to programs like ChatGPT? 
  • How do you see these programs changing teaching, learning, and research in the coming years? 
  • In what scenario(s) do you think using these programs is appropriate? 
  • What advice would you give to students about using these programs and AI-generated text? 
Keep in mind that the conversation around these programs continues to evolve. Some professors are excited about the possibilities of this technology; others are concerned about issues related not only to teaching and learning but research integrity, privacy, and ethics.  
Take time too to consider your own thoughts and feelings about this technology and how it may affect you as a citizen, learner, student, and thinker.


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