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What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (or AI for short) is defined as “Machines that perform tasks normally performed by human intelligence, especially when machines learn from data how to do these tasks”. If a tool does something a human could do and learns how it can do it better, you might call that an AI tool. There are a lot of tools that use Artificial Intelligence to do their job, including:
- ChatGPT & Google Bard – Tools which takes prompts, processes them, and generates a suitable, written response
- DALL-E – A tool which takes prompts, processes them, and generates a suitable image
- Grammarly Pro & Quillbot – Tools which can take phrases, check for spelling errors, and re-phrase them to make them sound better
AI has a wide number of tools that can be used during your studies and beyond, here's some ways you may use AI professionally:
- To write emails or messages to emphasise a certain point or tone
- To quickly turn complex information into simple, easy to read pieces of information
- To research or revise a topic that might be difficult to look into
- To create templates for presentations, flyers, or essay structures
- To analyse, or make recommendations about, complex sets of data
What is BCU's policy on using Artificial Intelligence?
At the time of this article being published BCU's policy states:
If you go against any of these rules, you’ll be committing plagiarism. If you have work that is AI-generated, or if you gave it the prompts to make the content you’ve copied and pasted from AI, ultimately it wasn’t you who wrote that work.
Remember at university, your degree is based on what you know as an individual. If you submit work that’s not yours – you’re not showing what you know, and as a result the University cannot give you a mark to say, “here’s how well you know this particular aspect of your degree”.
Currently, the policy doesn’t look out for AI used for research purposes. If, outside of your assessment, you want to use AI to look more closely at a topic in a way that saves time – you are more than free to do this. It might help you learn new things, and the University wants to make sure you have the opportunity to do that so long as you’re not taking that information, copying it into your document, and handing it in as your own work.
Using AI, what to look out for...
If you wanted to look up information on a debate or topic, AI can take information from a bunch of sources on the web, such as Wikipedia or The Guardian, and sometimes even journal articles to respond to requests. While this is a very useful tool, a problem is that sources on the internet are written by people with biases and opinions which you might not be aware of because you’re getting that information second-hand.
When you use AI tools that provide you with information – please make sure you fact check all the information that you get. Ideally, much like using Wikipedia, only ever use such tools as a starting point. Research every point that you plan to include in your essay further, critically analyse the points being made, back them up with references, and when you’re talking about those points in assignment – write them in your own words.
Daydreaming is a process where AI makes up a reference and adds it to its text as if it’s real. This doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough for it to be a problem – especially in cases where you ask an AI to pull up references that fit certain criteria. If you are using references that don’t exist you aren’t backing up your points, which in turn will decrease your overall grade as you’ve not shown critical or evidence-based understanding. While you’re more than free to use AI tools for finding references, always double-check every reference that you put in. If you can’t find it on Google Scholar – it might not be a real reference. Additionally, if you can find it on Google Scholar or a similar site make sure the content in the reference matches the point being made. To avoid plagiarism, make sure you re-write whatever has been said in your own words to demonstrate understanding, and expand on the point being made with points of your own too.
Turnitin is the system that is used to check for all kinds of plagiarism in assessments. It works by comparing your essay against what it believes an AI would write on the topic. If it sees a lot of similarities, it’ll come up with a high “AI similarity” score – and if it doesn’t, that score will be much lower. At BCU, AI plagiarism is checked using a combination of this tool and academic judgment. A problem with the current system is that it may make students who are more likely to write like an AI more susceptible to being wrongly picked up for plagiarism. This is a problem for all students because Turnitin does not allow students to check for AI plagiarism before submissions.
Because you might not get the chance to check for AI plagiarism beforehand – it’s important that you always prepare proof that your work is your own regardless of whether or not you’ve used AI. You can do this by saving drafts of your work or by showing evidence of your research through creating assignment plans, reference lists, etc. By having this evidence on hand – you’ll be able to show any academic misconduct panel that what you’ve produced is your own. If you've been falsely accused of plagiarism contact our Advice Team by filling in an enquiry form and they’ll do what we can to help out.
How are we supporting you with AI?
We want to make sure students are better informed and aware about the us of Artificial Intelligence in academic writing. Here are some of the things that we’re doing for you:
1. Collecting your feedback!
As your VP of Academic Experience, I'm using a survey to help BCU students use Artificial Intelligence effectively. We will collect your survey responses to better understand what students do and don't know right now, this will be reported to show the BCU decision makers what needs to be done to help students use AI fairly. Your responses are really important, please take five minutes to fill in the survey below and you'll be entered in a draw to win a £20 amazon voucher!
Click to find our survey!
2. AI drop-ins and stalls across campuses
I'm excited to tell you all about AI through in-person stalls. At these stalls, I'll give out information about AI alongside some free goods. If you miss me at your campus, don't worry, I'll leave some flyers on campus which you can pick-up!
Using Artificial Intelligence is a skill and should be taught like one, particularly because proper AI usage may well be a skill that employers look for when you graduate into the world of work. I'll be hosting workshops that will help teach you how to use AI in the real world and how to avoid plagiarism.
The workshops will help you become a master of AI to use in things like research, email writing, and general task completion so that you’re able to add to your skillset and potentially add to your CV. Free pizza will be available at each workshop, the perfect reason to attend. You can join for free and we'll have two workshops a term at City Centre and South campuse – check out our What's On page for when these are happening!
4. Advice Team
If you ever have an issue with using AI or plagiarism during your time at university, our Advice Team have got your back. Contact them on the button below...
Log an enquiry