ChatGPT can't be an author, scientific journal editors and publishers say

In the last week, thousands of scientific journals have updated their policies to clarify that ChatGPT — an artificial intelligence chatbot that generates humanlike responses — cannot be listed as an author on research papers. Some have also moved to outlaw its use in the preparation of articles, according to a Jan. 26 report from The Guardian. 

On Jan. 26, the editor-in-chief of Science updated the journal's editorial policy, banning the use of ChatGPT and any other AI tools from work accepted by the journal. Holden Thorp, PhD, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, summarized the policy changes in a blog post on the journal's website: 

"For the Science journals, the word 'original' is enough to signal that text written by ChatGPT is not acceptable: It is, after all, plagiarized from ChatGPT. Further, our authors certify that they themselves are accountable for the research in the paper. Still, to make matters explicit, we are now updating our license and Editorial Policies to specify that text generated by ChatGPT (or any other AI tools) cannot be used in the work, nor can figures, images, or graphics be the products of such tools. And an AI program cannot be an author. A violation of these policies will constitute scientific misconduct no different from altered images or plagiarism of existing works. Of course, there are many legitimate data sets (not the text of a paper) that are intentionally generated by AI in research papers, and these are not covered by this change."

Also this week, Springer-Nature, which publishes nearly 3,000 journals, said ChatGPT cannot be listed as an author but did not ban its use in the preparation of papers. Elsevier, which publishes about 2,800 journals, including Cell and The Lancet, took a similar stance. The lead editors of those journals say ChatGPT's use in some cases could be beneficial to improve the clarity of language used in the article. Those policies require authors to disclose full details on how the tool was used. 

ChatGPT went live in November, prompting leaders in the scientific community to develop guidelines surrounding its use. The tool recently passed all three parts of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, though by a small margin, according to early findings. 

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