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Researching and Referencing: Generative AI

This guide provides support to staff and students on research skills, referencing, study and writing skills and digital literacy

Understanding Generative AI, it's impacts and limitations

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

“The ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.” B.J. Copeland, 1998

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI)

Software that generates text, computer code, audio, images and videos in response to text input. The release of ChatGPT (which uses GPT-3.5) by Open AI on November 30, 2022, captured one million users within one week, surpassing any other software. This event drew attention to other existing generative AI technologies and fuelled rapid growth in the field. Even more powerful GPT-4 was released on March 14, 2023, which is available via ChatGPT Plus and some functionality via Bing Chat.

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) 

Future of AI which aims to include the cognitive abilities and general intelligence of a human being, including the ability to reason, learn, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, adapt to variety of situations, be creative and communicate effectively in natural language. Learn more about AGI.” 

AI Tools

There are lots of options available, here are just some places to help you get started.

Please note, TAFE NSW does not recommend specific products for use.

FAQ - Artificial Intelligence


    AI tools can help personalise your learning and support your learning needs. You'll improve your digital literacy and be prepared to use these tools in your future workplace to increase productivity. These tools may also be used as assistive technology for students that need extra support due to diverse needs. 

    As the use of AI becomes more widespread, employers are increasingly seeking candidates who have experience working with AI tools. Learning how to use generative AI tools can give students a competitive edge in the job market. Also, it can help you be more productive in the workplace. Discuss with your teachers most relevant AI tools for your field of study.


Your conversations with Generative AI, like ChatGPT, are stored for further training of the model and are attached to your user account. People, not just AI, are involved in the training of AI and these staff have access to your data. Therefore, please do not upload any confidential or sensitive information about yourself, others, or your organisation. Each tool would have their own privacy policy. Here is ChatGPT's Privacy Policy.

Furthermore, any content you create, which is your intellectual property that you put through these tools for grammar check or rewriting in a different style, will be used in training the model. Consequently, it may be included in the content generated for others without giving credit to your work.

ChatGPT allows you to turn off the chat history so that Open AI will not be able to use your data in training its model. However, even with the history option turned off, it will retain the data for 30 days only for abuse monitoring. After 30 days it will be permanently deleted.

Chat history


  • Critical thinking skills – analysing the information available from AI tools should encourage the use of information literacy and critical thinking skills

  • Digital and AI literacy skills – through the use of AI tools students may learn the effective use of emerging technology useful for the workplace. AI Literacy is the ability to understand and form opinions on the role of AI, basic understanding of how it works, strengths, limitations, use AI tools responsibly.
  • Prompt engineering skills – knowing effective ways to interact with AI tools to get the desired output.
  • Communication skills - interaction with teachers and peers should be encouraged through discussions on generated content while using AI tools.


    The content generated by AI tools may contain biases and inaccuracies. You need to always think critically, analyse and research further to confirm generated content. For example, the current version of ChatGPT generates content based on data up to September 2021 and is not guaranteed to be generated from reliable sources.

    The content generated by GAI tools may contain biases and inaccuracies. You need to think critically, do your own research and if unsure discuss with your teacher. ChatGPT and ChatGPT plus generates content it was trained on up to September 2021. Bing Chat generates content based on current information or use a browser extension such WebChatGPT for Chrome to access the current information.


    Assessments where the use of Generative Artificial Intelligence is permitted or required, will explicitly state the extent and the appropriate use in the assessment specifications. Inappropriate use of Generative AI is a breach of academic integrity, such as:
  • Inclusion of content created by Generative AI is not permitted, unless otherwise explicitly stated in the assessment specifications.
  • Not acknowledging the use of content created by Generative AI, where the appropriate use of such tools is stated in the assessment.

    All assessments submitted through Turnitin, will generate an AI writing report. This report will highlight what it has identified as AI generated content along with an AI writing indicator percentage. This report is only available to the marker and not students. The teacher will not rely solely on this to detect potential breaches.

    Where it is suspected that a student has not submitted their own work, they may be invited to discuss the process of arriving at the solution and show any evidence.


    There are currently no set guidelines to acknowledge these tools in Harvard or APA style. However, until these guidelines are developed, you can use the suggested referencing styles in the Refencing Generative AI Tools box in this guide

    Generative Artificial Intelligence is a rapidly changing space and we recommend that you check this page regularly for any updates as the APA and Harvard referencing styles have not confirmed a format for referencing content generated from AI tools



  • Spell checkers primarily rely on a database of correct spelling, alerting the user of any incorrect spelling with suggestions for corrections based on the closest matches. However, some also use AI technologies to suggest the most likely word based on the context. Generally, most spell checkers use a combination of both approaches. Grammar checkers improve the quality of writing by suggesting corrections. It is acceptable to use such tools for spelling and grammar checking, unless you are being assessed on spelling or grammar skills, teachers in such courses will advise you when it is appropriate to use these tools.


    Grammarly has been incorporating AI in their products for about a decade. However in April 2023, they released a new product called GrammarlyGo, which is built on GPT-3 and generates new content based on user prompts. Therefore, if an assessment requirement does not specify the use of generative AI, using content created by GrammarlyGo would be unacceptable. This is different from using it to correct your spelling or grammar.


    Closing your account or deleting prompts/chats will not stop your uploaded data from being used to train the model. You can submit a user content opt out request to OpenAI to ensure your data is not used at all.


    When you use Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint for your assessments, be aware that these tools now incorporate Generative AI. Microsoft Copilot, which is available in Word and other Office applications, can generate new content by referencing related documents. Using it to create new content in response to a prompt must be in line with assessment instructions.


    TAFE NSW offers Copilot only through the Edge browser application. This means that you won't have access to Copilot when you complete assessments while logged in to your student account. Students might have access to Copilot on their personal devices but it should be used responsibly and only when permitted


Acceptable and Unacceptable use of Artificial Intelligence Tools


    Acceptable use

    Mandy was reading an article in a cooking magazine when she discovered an unfamiliar technical term. She aske ChatGPT for a definition and how to use the term in context. ChatGPT gave her a basic explanation, which she then clarified with her teacher in her next class.

    Acceptable use

    Ravi is an international student and struggling to understand the accent of the teacher. He asked the teacher if he can input her voice to a Generative AI tool and ask it to show the transcript and sometimes translate to Hindi. He asked further questions on the content taught to clarify – either in English or Hindi. However, it is important to continue to engage with various English speaking students and teachers to improve understanding various accents and language skills.

    Unacceptable use

    Alex was asked to write a research essay which had to include at least 4 references in the reference list.  He asked ChatGPT to write the essay. It produced a well worded piece of text, but Alex had no way of knowing if the information or references were completely factually correct. AI tools do not verify where their information comes from, or if the references actually exist.  


    Acceptable use

    Bob is preparing his Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC) students for the end of year maths assessment. After checking the format of the assessment he prompts ChatGPT to develop a practice assessment using the same format. AI tools can produce original questions for practicing, which enables the student to be well prepared.

    Acceptable use

    Chung has just finished studying for her final exam in programming. She enters the learning outcomes of the subject into a Generative AI tool, and asks it to generate sample exam questions. She then answers these questions and asks it to correct the answers she wrote and use this as a way to identify her weak areas.

    Unacceptable use

    Mary’s older brother did the same course at TAFE as she is doing. He still has all his notes and assessments from his course.  Mary discovers that her assignment is the same one her brother completed two years earlier.  She types the assessment question in to Chat GPT and receives a completed piece of work.  Mary adds some text from her brother’s assessment and submits it as her own.  None of the work is Mary’s own.  This is breaching the TAFE NSW student Rights and Responsibilities which state “As a student, you must NOT plagiarise, collude, or cheat in any assessment event or examination”


    Acceptable use

    Mohammad is doing a fine arts course and has been told by his teacher he may use AI to assist in the development of a creative piece of art.  The teacher explained that the students must illustrate what was AI generated and how it was used in the development of the student’s own piece.  Mohammed use AI to gather ideas for his own artwork.  He refers to them in his writing, and acknowledges the ideas in the development of his own creative artwork.

    Unacceptable use

    Helen is studying the Diploma Library practice.  As part of her Marketing and Promotions unit, she is asked to develop a brochure to advertise the library services.  Marks are given for content and appearance, using original ideas, which would best reflect the library service she is promoting.  Helen adds the text to the page, then adds an AI generated image which she did not acknowledge.  Helen had not asked permission to use AI, nor acknowledged that she had, and has not used original ideas for the image.

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