Five Tips for Avoiding Being Falsely Accused of AI Use


5th October 2023

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When proofreading your academic work, you may contemplate using AI to ease your workload. However, knowing that universities use screening mechanisms to penalise AI-assisted proofreads may make you worried. The potential risk of being detected and penalised may deter you from using this approach. Yet, the apprehension doesn’t end here. Even without the use of AI, you can find yourself falsely accused of its use, as discussed in the previous post. This post will explore five tips for avoiding being falsely accused of AI use.

1. Follow university guidance on AI use

Most universities have guidelines on acceptable AI use. In the context of proofreading, this may include restrictions on using AI for checking grammar and spelling, maintaining style and consistency, and verifying citations and references, as these could undermine your academic integrity. Be aware of these guidelines and make sure you communicate your understanding of them if somebody wrongly suspects you of AI use.

2. Keep artefacts of your proofreading process

When you proofread an academic paper, you’ll naturally change your paper a few times before it’s finished. You will probably have annotated markups in your document, such as notes, comments, and corrections made to the paper, and several drafts and revisions. A great way to protect yourself from being accused of using AI is to save your annotated markups, drafts, and revisions. These materials are proof that you have proofread the work yourself. Keep these and show them to your professors if they falsely accuse you of AI use.

3. Follow content requirements

Your professor will give you clear requirements that your academic work must fulfil. Usually, these requirements are quite specific and your proofreading will be tailored to meet them. Note that AI cannot fully comply with such detailed requirements. By ensuring that you meet them in full, you can substantiate the authenticity of your edited and proofread work, differentiating it from content generated by AI.

4. Cite AI use

If you decide to use AI when proofreading academic work, such as to maintain consistency and correct spelling and grammar, be sure to cite it! Current guidelines state that any use of AI should be clearly explained in a footnote. If you include a footnote of this kind, you will protect yourself from being penalised for AI use and falsely suspected of using it to complete the whole work.

5. Make sure your own style stands out

An academic paper written and proofread by you will be in your own style and voice. This unique voice and style will run through all papers you have submitted to a university. To avoid being falsely accused of AI use, ensure that your writing style and voice are evident in the work you have proofread. Your professor can then compare your new paper to the ones you submitted previously and conclude that the work was indeed produced by you.

A key message

In the era of increased use of AI detection, you may get easily accused of having used AI even though this accusation is false. This is because AI detection is unreliable and results in high false positive rates. This blog post offered valuable advice for protecting yourself from these baseless accusations and demonstrating the genuineness of your academic edits. In our next post, we will explore five ways AI can help you proofread your work while maintaining your academic integrity.