The recent release of AI technology that generates new text has raised serious questions among the research community. One of them being “Can ChatGPT be named an author of a research paper?”

The resounding answer from arXiv – the open access respository for pre and post prints in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science and economics – is, “No.” A computer program cannot, for example, take responsibility for the contents of a paper. Nor can it agree to arXiv’s terms and conditions. Other organisations agree.

To address this issue, arXiv has gone to the lengths of publishing a new policy for authors regarding the use of generative AI language tools.

The official policy is:

arXiv recognizes that authors of scientific works use a variety of tools to do the science on which they report, and to prepare the report itself, from simple ones to very sophisticated ones. Community opinion on the appropriateness of such tools may be varied and evolving; AI powered language tools have in particular led to significant debate. We note that tools may generate useful and helpful results, but also errors or misleading results; therefore, knowing which tools were used is relevant to evaluating and interpreting scientific works.

In view of this, we

  1. continue to require authors to report in their work any significant use of sophisticated tools, such as instruments and software; we now include in particular text-to-text generative AI among those that should be reported consistent with subject standards for methodology.
  2. remind all colleagues that by signing their name as an author of a paper, they each individually take full responsibility for all its contents, irrespective of how the contents were generated. If generative AI language tools generate inappropriate language, plagiarized content, errors, mistakes, incorrect references, or misleading content, and that output is included in scientific works, it is the responsibility of the author(s).
  3. state that generative AI language tools should not be listed as an author; instead authors should refer to (1).