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Understanding Plagiarism & AI: How to Cite Generative AI

AI Tools and Your Course Assignments

  • Always confirm with your professor whether AI tools like ChatGPT are allowed for each assignment
  • Always verify information and sources generated by AI tools
    • AI has been known to generate false information and to cite non-existent sources
    • AI-generated text mines people's intellectual property without crediting them, which raises ethical concerns
  • Content from AI tools like ChatGPT is usually nonrecoverable, so it cannot be retrieved or linked in your citation and should be cited as personal communication
  • Personal communication receives an in-text citation but does not appear on the list of references
  • Some of this guidance may be updated as recommendations evolve

MLA Style

The Modern Language Association (MLS) provides detailed guidance on citing generative AI according to their template:

APA Style

Currently, APA recommends that text generated from AI be formatted as "Personal Communication." As such, it receives an in-text citation but not an entry on the References list.

Rule: (Communicator, personal communication, Month Date, Year)


(OpenAI, personal communication, January 16, 2023).

When asked to explain psychology's main schools of thought, OpenAI's ChatGPT's response included ... (personal communication, February 22, 2023).

Chicago Style

Chicago Style with footnotes

Personal communications are cited in a footnote, but are not listed in the bibliography.

Rule: Number.Originator of the communication, medium, Day Month, Year.

Example: 1 OpenAI's ChatGPT AI language model, response to question from author, 7 February, 2023.   

Shortened note rule: NumberCorrespondent's last name, medium

Example1 ChatGPT, response to prompt from author

Chicago Author-Date

Personal communications are cited within the text, but are not listed in the reference list.

Rule: (Correspondent's Full Name, medium if relevant, Month Day, Year)

Example: (OpenAI's ChatGPT, response to prompt from author, February 22, 2023)

Vancouver style

The NLM Style Guide recommends that personal communications are only cited in the text, and are not included in the reference list. Generally, the Vancouver referencing style uses numbered in-text citations, but for personal communications the advice is as follows:

  • provide information about the personal communication within the text
  • Include the nature and source of the cited information
  • indicate clearly that no corresponding citation is in the reference list (e.g. include the term 'unreferenced' or similar)

Example: In response to the question ..., OpenAI's ChatGPT gave the following response ... (2023 Feb 22, unreferenced).

Special Thanks to Lindsay McNiff, from Killiam Library at Dalhousie University, and the Dalhousie University librarians, for permission to directly copy content from their guide on citing AI, which can be found online at