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UGS 302: Fashion, Beauty & Culture / Wilson

Chat GPT and Research

About ChatGPT at UT

What is it?

In non-technical terms, ChatGPT is a chatbot that has "learned" how to have a conversation with you or respond to your prompts from a large amount of data. This is called a "large language model" and in the case of ChatGPT, as of fall 2023, the large amount of data/language it is learnng from is internet content prior to 2021.

Can I use it as a UT student?

It is up to your professor if or how you can use it in a course. Review your syllabus or talk to your professor. 

If you do use it, remember to cite it. Avoid plagiarizing by citing any work produced by any other person or entity, whether it is chatbot output, copying and pasting from a website, paraphrasing or using ideas.

What are the problems with using it to help with research?

  • ChatGPT is designed to provide "plausible" responses, not credible responses.As a result, the information it presents can be incorrect. It is up to you to evaluate its credibility, just as with any other source of information.
  • ChatGPT was not trained on paywalled content, which means the content the Libraries subscribes to is not reflected in ChatGPTs responses.
  • ChatGPT makes up/"hallucinates" plausible sounding citations to sources that don't actually exist. 
  • ChatGPT was trained on information prior to 2021.

How can it be helpful for research? 

Note: Before doing any of these things, make sure that they are allowed by your professor.

  • Use it to start brainstorming a topic or research question. For example, you can ask it to list and describe some topics related to your course content. You can then test how viable the topic is by examining the results of your own searches for information. Ask yourself if there is enough information about it or if there is so much that you need to narrow the topic; and if the information is current enough for your research.
  • Use it to brainstorm keywords to research your topic in library search tools. You can then use these search terms to search for information in the library.
  • If you are researching a controversial topic, you can ask it for the pros and cons. For example, if you are researching self-driving cars, you could ask it to list and describe the benefits of self-drving cars and the drawbacks or problems with self-driving cars. You can then use this list to find sources about those specific benefits and risks and dig deeper.


Ethical and Privacy Considerations

Some people don't use ChatGPT because of ethical considerationsl. Here are a few of those concerns.

  • Privacy: It collects and shares a lot of data about you it draws from your account information, your IP address and your activity using it. It does allow you to opt out of having your transcripts saved.
  • Copyright: ChatGPT was trained on information on the internet, including coprighted information, with no permision from or payment to the creators. There are a lot of court cases about this as of Fall 2023.
  • Unpaid Labor: .It uses the prompts you enter to continue to train its models. This means it is using your work to train its subscription model as well, so many consider ths unpaid labor.
  • Exploitative Labor Practices: Investigative journalists discoved that workers in Kenya, Uganda and India were paid $1-$2 per hour to review data for disturbing, graphic and violent images that were psychologically scarring.
  • Bias: The majority of information on the internet is in English and presents a western perspective, which means ChatGPT is learning from a biased data set  In addition, the majority of engineers working on ChatGPT are white and male. These biases are present in ChatGPTs output either explicitly or implicitly. 

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