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WAME statement on chatbots

23 January, 2023

This is to report on a new set of recommendations on “Chatbots, ChatGPT, and Scholarly Manuscripts” issued by the World Association of Medical Editors (https://wame.org/page3.php?id=106) .

Chatbots are artificial intelligence software designed to write texts in response to the user’s instructions. A good working example is OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which you can try out here (https://beta.openai.com/overview - it’s free, and very easy to use: no technical skills required).

This is already affecting education (ChatGPT is being used to do the homework) and academic journals (the first four papers have been published listing ChatGPT as an author). Since, ChatGPT has entered the world of academic/biomedical publishing, we at the World Association of Medical Editors have just issued our statement on chatbots.

The statement makes four recommendations 1) chatbots like ChatGPT are tools like Word or Excel, and should never be shown as a named author, 2) authors should declare when they use a chatbot and provide information about how it was used, 3) authors are responsible for the work performed by a chatbot in their paper (including the accuracy of what is presented, and the absence of plagiarism) and for appropriate attribution of all sources (including for material produced by the chatbot), and 4) editors need appropriate tools to help them detect content generated or altered by AI.

All of those points address real problems. For example, to take the question of references: ChatGPT has been caught making up references to non-existent works; it cannot refer to references after 2021 (the cut-off point of its “training”); and it has proved to be inherently biased (only showing references supporting the argument, while ignoring contradictory voices). All these and more will be a challenge.

Chris Zielinski

Centre for Global Health, University of Winchester, UK  and

Vice President, World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)

Blogs; http://ziggytheblue.wordpress.com and http://ziggytheblue.tumblr.com

Publications: http://www.researchgate.net and https://winchester.academia.edu/ChrisZielinski/

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Global Health, University of Winchester, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme, which supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. He is the elected Vice President (and President-in-Waiting) of the World Association of Medical Editors. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. He served on WHO's Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. He also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Chris has been a director of the UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). chris AT chriszielinski.com. His publications are at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Chris-Zielinski and https://winchester.academia.edu/ChrisZielinski/ and his blogs are http://ziggytheblue.wordrpress.com and https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ziggytheblue