What happens if you're accused of using AI to cheat

What happens if you're accused of using AI to cheat

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a personal finance writer and speaker with a background in financial literacy, student loans, credit scores, and investing. She's a three-time nominee and finalist for Best Personal Finance Contributor at the Plutus Awards. Zina paid off $28,000 in student loans in three years. Holding a bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, she has worked for newspapers, magazines, and wire services. Her byline has appeared in Indianapolis Monthly, the Commercial Appeal, and the Associated Press, and as an expert, she's been featured in the Washington Post, Forbes, Fox Business, and Time. Additionally, Zina is a Certified Financial Health Counselor and Student Loan Counselor.

As services like ChatGPT continue to flood the market, many students are realizing how easy it can be to write a term paper or essay using AI-powered tools.

Unfortunately for them, many professors are using AI-detection tools to check written submissions for evidence of AI use and plagiarism. But what happens if you’re not using AI and get accused of using it to write your assignment?

Read below to learn how to avoid having this happen to you, how to check your own writing for AI, and how to prove that you wrote your own work.

Why students are being accused of using AI

It would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but now it only takes a few minutes for a site like ChatGPT to write an essay that you can turn in. You just give them the prompt, set the parameters, and click “generate.”

Simply put, cheating is easier now than it ever has been before. Instead of doing a Google search for a similar essay or hiring someone else to write one, you can just have a robot type up an essay for free. And in many cases, you can have it done within a few minutes.

How to prove you didn’t use AI

If you want to show your professors that you did not use ChatGPT or anything similar in your writing, here are some basic steps to follow.

Track your work

The easiest way to prove that you did not use any AI source to create your content is to show your work. This is easiest to do this if you wrote the assignment in Google Docs or Microsoft Word, both of which can track your changes.

Also, if you took any notes on paper or made comments in a textbook, you can take pictures of those notes or scan them as a PDF to show your work. You can also send a list of resources and links that you used when writing. You can also cite these directly in your paper, even if you are not required to.

If you did not use Google Docs or Microsoft Word to write the assignment, then you need to find some other way to show that the piece was only written by you.

Lastly, you can send your professor some of the many articles that show that college students across the country are being falsely accused of using AI when they have not. For example, one study found that 38 out of 49 students accused of using ChatGPT were actually innocent.

Respond immediately

If you are accused of using AI, then you need to be proactive when handling the situation. If you are informed via email, take a few minutes to collect your thoughts before drafting a response. But try to send a note back that same day.

When addressing your professor, you must remain polite and professional, even if you are angry and frustrated. Remember, being upset will not change anyone’s mind. You have to show concrete proof that you did not cheat.

If you are being accused or have been given a poor grade or an incomplete, you need to determine what the next steps are. Can you file an appeal with the professor or the head of the department? Is there someone else you can contact? What are the official channels you can use?

Remember, not only can this affect your GPA, but it can also go into your permanent record. Plus, it will affect your relationship with that professor, who could be an important resource in the future.

How to avoid being accused of plagiarism

The easiest way to prove that you have not used AI in your writing is to use a service like Google Docs when creating your content. Google Docs has a revision history section that tracks every keystroke you make while writing your paper.

If you use the same Google Doc for your entire drafting, writing, and editing process, the professor will be able to see that you didn’t just copy and paste words generated by ChatGPT.

If you have to submit an assignment in another format like a PDF, you can send a note to your professor with the link to the underlying Google Doc. While this will take a couple of extra steps, being proactive might spare you the stress of being accused of plagiarism.

Also, before submitting your assignment, you can use a service like Copyleaks to see if there are any sections that stand out as AI-generated. If CopyLeaks does flag a section, you can try to fix it so that it sounds less like a robot wrote them.

Unfortunately, students whose native language is not English seem to be disproportionately accused of using AI writing. If you're not a native English speaker, you can try to ask a friend who is to look over your writing before you submit it. they may be able to point out areas that are awkward.

Avoid AI

Many students are using AI to give them ideas for essays or find research. If you still insist on using AI to help you start a piece, make sure to verify any sources yourself and cite them. There have been some reports that AI will use incorrect sources when citing information. Also, in many cases, ChatGPT does not have data that has been published since 2021.

If you’re writing about a relatively recent event and rely on ChatGPT to source data, you may get information that is outdated and obviously incorrect. This will only make your paper stand out even more - for all of the wrong reasons - and potentially put you on your professor’s radar screen for a plagiarism accusation.

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