The Ethics of ChatGPT Essay Writing — Is It Plagiarism?

Artificial intelligence has been man’s best friend these past couple years. It speeds up and simplifies the most inane of tasks so that you can get more done with less time and less eyestrain. What’s not to love? 

Well, plagiarism, for a start. Much digital ink has been spilled over what qualifies as plagiarism in reference to using ChatGPT as an essay writing tool, and for good reason – it’s a very gray subject. So today, we’ll be shedding some light on what exactly constitutes plagiarism when you’re using ChatGPT to research and write essays. 


The Ethics of ChatGPT Writing — Is It Plagiarism? 

ChatGPT does an amazing job of simplifying intensive research. It can take a 4,000 word essay and break it down into its most essential facts, which is great if you’re after the big picture of a piece of writing. You can even use that bullet-pointed list of essential facts as part of your essay drafting, which is something that ChatGPT is also great at doing. But this raises an ethical question — if you take someone else’s essay or blog, feed it into ChatGPT to produce a list of facts, and then use that list of facts to write another essay, is that plagiarism? 


Inspiration vs Plagiarism 

AI plagiarism is a sticky topic nowadays. Many AI algorithms are trained on other people’s online content with no express consent from those parties. If you use ChatGPT to synthesize other people’s work that you then use to write a new essay, where does that fit into this conversation? 

The short answer is that this style of writing isn’t plagiarism inherently, but only if you’re using the initial work as a jumping off point and not as a final destination. As a professional writer, I’ve written a lot of essays and referenced a lot of research material for inspiration. That’s the nature of research — condensing relevant material into useful facts and then referencing those facts in your work, citing that original work when taking exact quotes or when using facts and figures that originated with that piece of writing. ChatGPT essay writing is simply an AI-assisted form of researching that greatly speeds up the process of drafting.  


ChatGPT Plagiarism is still possible 

With all that being said, ChatGPT-written essays can absolutely still be plagiarism, or at least ethically questionable, if the writer isn’t contributing any original work beyond the referenced essays. If you’re simply rewording someone else’s essay with the same conclusion, same facts, and same sources, you’ve still plagiarized their work, even if ChatGPT changed a few words. 

Plus, it’s fairly obvious to most people what a 100% AI-written essay looks and sounds like (it’s not good), so the final product is just going to be a worse version of the original essay. 


How to use AI tools to write an essay 

In essence, ChatGPT is great for condensing a lot of information into readable chunks, but now it’s your turn to make that research into unique content. Take a fresh stance on the information, inject your own voice into the writing, cite new sources. Now, you haven’t plagiarized anything — you’ve just written an essay that takes inspiration from other works. That’s the nature of non-fiction writing.  

Even so, SEO-approved essay writing is a lot of work, even with an AI assistant. If you’re looking to improve your Google rankings and become an authority in your industry, 1GS’s team of professional writers and website designers will improve your website’s Google ranking every month, guaranteed. Speak with a 1GS representative today to discuss how your business can start growing in just a few weeks. 


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