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Are You Smarter Than A.I.?: Verify Citations


Does ChatGPT Make Up Citations and References?

ChatGPT has been known to produce made up or incorrect citations to academic articles. These citations may look real, however on close examination they point to nonexistent articles. Here are some examples of false citations provided by ChatGPT:

In the video, Is ChatGPT making up sources and references?, professor David Wilkinson explains how to check whether citations and references produced by ChatGPT are real and accurate.  He also explains the importance of fact checking ChatGPT and verifying references in both academic and professional contexts. 

How to Find and Verify Citations

Citations help us find original sources so that we can verify the cited information.  Your instructor will look at the citations that you list for your research assignments to check that you have used appropriate sources, have not plagiarized, and have used the cited information correctly to support or refute your position. Using made up or incorrect citations negates your paper, speech, or project. Be sure to check citations not just for accuracy, but for context. 

The following steps can be used to search for and verify citations from ChatGPT and from other sources. 

  1. Search Google Scholar.  Search the title of the article in Google Scholar. If the article is real, it will often appear within the first few results. 
  2. Google the name of the journal and search for the article directly on the journal's website. You may also be able to use the volume and issue number to search for the article. 
  3. If the citation provided contains a DOI (Digital object identifier), go to the DOI website and paste the DOI into the search box. 
  4. Google the author's name. Often their personal or professional websites include a list of their publications.

If none of the above actions return the article, it is most likely a made up reference OR it has been incorrectly cited somewhere and ChatGPT is copying that. Either way, it is not a citation that should be used.   

If you are able to locate the article, be sure to read the article to make sure that the information is actually relevant and supportive to your own research. If the full of the article is not available or behind a paywall, it is not acceptable to cite an abstract. Only cite sources that you can read the entire article. Learn how to increase the number of full text articles available in Google Scholar.