AI and the Writing Process – Documenting and Citing

AI and the Writing Process – Documenting and Citing

An Important Note on Academic Integrity

Academic and professional integrity are critical elements of student and professional conduct. Always be sure that the use of AI as a tool for your work is allowed and that you are clear about the parameters you need to follow and your responsibilities when you use it. Always document and cite your use of AI.  

Without the explicit permission or instruction of your instructor, you should never submit work produced by ChatGPT or other AI. Doing so is an academic offense. From University of Waterloo guidelines: “Using ChatGPT (or similar tools that generate text, code, or visual images) for content generation and submitting it as one’s own original work is a violation of the University of Waterloo’s Policy 71 (Student Discipline).” 

In the following examples, the 💬 symbol indicates the prompt entry into ChatGPT-3.5.

All Resources in this Series

1. Overview

2. AI and the Writing Process 

   a. Getting Started 

   b. Drafting  

   c. Revising and editing

   d. Documenting and Citing  ✓


In this resource, we discuss citing and documenting your use of GenAI, such as ChatGPT. These are distinct but connected activities.  

Citation refers to the practice of referencing the GenAI used when including its outputs in your finished work through quotation, paraphrase, or summary. When you use generated content from GenAI, you must reference it in both the body of your text and in your bibliography.  

Documenting refers to keeping track of your activities with GenAI and your corresponding actions. These actions may be related to idea generation and drafting, so documentation is not limited to what ends up in your finished document. While ChatGPT keeps a record of your prompts and its responses by default, your documentation will (a) form a summary of these activities, and (b) identify what actions you took as a result of your interactions with GenAI.  

1. Citing GenAI

🚩 The Library maintains the most up-to-date information about GenAI citation practices according to the different style guides and disciplinary bodies. Ensure you are following the recommended practices and formats for your subject area: 

Proper citation is critical for engaging in ethical scholarly practices. It demonstrates that you are joining a larger scholarly conversation and acknowledging the ideas and information that your work connects to. It also helps other researchers see where your information and thinking comes from.  

Citation is a way for you to demonstrate your critical thinking by showing how you can bring ideas and perspectives from others together with your own thinking. You are expected to search for evidence from a variety of research sources. Do not rely on ChatGPT as your primary or only source of information, even if you find other citations to support what ChatGPT has produced.  

Citation is also a necessary part of managing your academic integrity. If you do include information from a GenAI platform, either quoted or paraphrased, you must show that this is where it came from. If you confirm that information via another source, which is recommended, you should include that citation reference as well.  

Citation includes: 

  • A short in-text reference, contained in parentheses or in a footnote or endnote, that points readers to a full reference in your bibliography, reference list, or works cited. 
  • The full reference in your bibliography, reference list, or works cited. 

🚩 Avoid using ChatGPT to create and format your list of citations. If you are looking for help generating citations for your work, there are a variety of widely accepted reference management tools that can automate this process. Zotero, which is free, is supported by the University of Waterloo Library. 

2. Documentation of GenAI 

Documentation is part of the research and writing process. When you are searching for research literature, you should document your search terms. When you read research, you should engage with it by making notes on your responses, ideas, thoughts, and reflections. Although engagement with a platform like ChatGPT is not limited to research, it’s helpful to keep an organized record of your interactions with it so that you can identify where GenAI and your own work start, end, and connect.  

Why is this important? Depending on how you use it, the line between what GenAI is generating and what you are creating can be thin and sometimes fuzzy. Documenting can help protect you from potential ethical criticisms or concerns about the originality of your work.  

🚩 Your instructor may also tell you to include and submit your prompts and the GenAI outputs as pasted text or screenshots with your assignment. Document and save ChatGPT conversations as you go to ensure you have everything you need.  

How to document GenAI use

How you document your use of GenAI is up to you. You can create a text document or a spreadsheet to track the information that is most relevant (see the template below). You can copy and paste responses from GenAI into a table, or you can summarize GenAI-generated responses in a table as needed.  

ChatGPT keeps a record of past conversations in your account, so if you’ve logged into that platform, you can insert just enough information to be able to refer back to the record you need. Other platforms may be different, so adjust accordingly. 

Some important information to track may include: 

  • Date 
  • GenAI platform 
  • Conversation label* 
  • Prompt 
  • Response / response summary 
  • Action 

*ChatGPT labels each conversation. Include the generated label so that you can return to the full conversation as needed.  

🚩 Keep a record of your own work on an assignment. In addition to documenting your interactions with GenAI, it is a good idea to keep your brainstorming and other notes used for an assignment. Label and save previous drafts of your work or utilize the “Version” features in Office365 or Google to keep track of how your work evolves throughout the writing and revision process. If the integrity of your work ever comes under scrutiny, these notes and records will show your drafting process.  

Example documentation table

Assignment: Case study on mental health in the workplace 

Course: HR341  

Platform: ChatGPT 


Conversation Label 




Other notes 


“Mental Health in Workplace” 

For a case study on mental health in the workplace for my 3rd year university organizational behaviour course, create a list of possible examples or scenarios. 

List generated includes inequity and discrimination 

Next prompt 

How do gender and racial inequities intersect with mental health in the workplace? 

List included these terms:  

-double-minority stress 

-cumulative effects including burnout 

I Independently brainstormed some potential scenarios; Next prompt 

I’m thinking about double-minority stresses linked to race and gender identity, and maybe a case where repeated experiences of biases and microaggressions lead to burnout.   

What research search terms can I use to research "double-minority stress"? 

List generated 

Conducted Library research with list 

Maybe in my case study, the employee has to fight for a change in technology to record non-binary genders and pronouns? 


“Intersectionality define” 

“Define intersectionality” 

“Intersectionality is a concept that recognizes how different aspects of a person's identity, such as race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and more, intersect and interact to shape their unique experiences of privilege and oppression.” Mentions Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1989 

Check reference and research Crenshaw’s work 

OED definition of intersectionality: “The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise.”