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Citing and referencing ChatGPT responses: A proposal

Zakir Hossain


The citation and referencing aspects of ChatGPT responses have been on my mind for some time, even if many will disagree on whether it is ethical to cite AI-generated responses or not. As AI tools such as ChatGPT become our everyday search and research support, and we know that students will use it regardless (in fact they are using it!), educators must consider how to cite and reference ChatGPT responses. It is at the very least an act of integrity to reference ChatGPT responses to our readers if we do so! Hopefully, ChatGPT will soon add an 'auto-citation generator' for each of its responses including time, date and question(s)/prompts. An 'auto-citation generator' would be particularly useful for users who would otherwise not be asked to submit a list of citations/references along with their answer to a question to ChatGPT. There is, however, a challenge with the source link, which may always not be accessible to be verified by others! If this is the case, we may ask our students to submit screenshots of the AI generated texts as evidence (see Appendix 1), and students may add such work as an appendix.


1. For a question e.g., "How to cite and reference a ChatGPT answer?" a reference entry would be (APA 7th ed.):

A possible in-text citation could be: (ChatGPT, 2023 “How to cite and reference a ChatGPT answer?”)

  • MLA 9th ed.: ChatGPT. “Question: How to cite and reference a ChatGPT answer?” openai.com, 2023. ChatGPT Jan. 9 Version. https://chat.openai.com/chat/52f881b5-82ea-457d-b8f3-629ced7b2ffc. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023.

In-text citation: (ChatGPT “How to cite and reference a ChatGPT answer?”)


2. For a prompt e.g., "Budget for a 3 member family based in Zurich for 2023" a reference entry would be:

An in-text citation could be: (ChatGPT, 2023 “Budget for a 3 member family based in Zurich for 2023”)

  • MLA 9th ed.: ChatGPT. “Prompt: Budget for a 3 member family based in Zurich for 2023.” openai.com, 2023. ChatGPT Jan. 9 Version. https://chat.openai.com/chat/ff75c484-3417-4149-9264-d011d456dad3. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023.

In-text citation: (ChatGPT "Budget for a 3 member family")


3. In the case of a continuing question-answer/ conversation/ discussions/ prompts, the subsequent questions/prompts could be added after the initial question with a ‘/’. For example:

In-text citation: (ChatGPT, 2023 “Budget for a 3 member family … health insurance in Zurich”)

In-text citation: (ChatGPT “Budget for a 3 member family … health insurance in Zurich”)


When I wrote down my initial ideas (which I shared on a professional Facebook group too) on how to cite and reference ChatGPT responses/answers, I asked ChatGPT “How to cite and reference a ChatGPT auto response” and “How to cite and reference a ChatGPT answer” and the following outputs illustrated in Figure 1, Figure 2 and Figure 3 were surprisingly similar to my initial thought!


I agree with ChatGPT that " responses generated by ChatGPT are not the work of any specific author and should not be attributed to any individual.", therefore, we should address them accordingly e.g., according to ChatGPT, a response generated by ChatGPT against the prompt 'xyz' suggested that...., etc.


Figure 1. How to cite and reference a ChatGPT auto response?


Figure 2. How to cite and reference a ChatGPT auto response? (Regenerate response version)


Figure 3. How to cite and reference a ChatGPT answer?


Appendix 1. Budget for a 3 member family based in Zurich for 2023.





Cite this post as (APA): Hossain, Z. (2023). Citing and referencing ChatGPT responses: A proposal. https://www.theresearchtl.net/single-post/citing-and-referencing-chatgpt-responses-a-proposal


Disclaimer: Although I teach citation and referencing at schools and conduct research on academic integrity, I do not have much experience with ChatGPT. Please note that these are just my personal views and may not be applicable to everyone and in every context. Should you have further questions/comments or better ideas, please do reach out via zakir.researchtl@gmail.com


Version 1, January 13, 2023 [19:45]

Version 2, February 15, 2023 [22:33]

Version 3, March 1, 2023 [16:19]

CitingChatGPT.V2
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