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Using citation generators to help with the research and writing process

This guide highlights some recommended citation generators and how to use them.

Not all citation generators are created equal!

There is an abundance (or one could argue overabundance) of citation generating tools on the market.  Some are free, some are apps you pay for, and some are better than others.  The citation generators we've highlighted on this guide are free, and are ones we recommend because of the relatively good quality of the output.

No citation generator is perfect, but they do a lot of the work for you so if you can handle a few edits here and there, then they might be a good tool to incorporate into your writing and citing processes.

If you prefer to use citation generators other than the ones listed on this guide, that's fine, too -- just be cautious of ones that have an abundance of advertising, provide scarce information on who is behind it, or want you to download software (which could potentially be malware).  Use your best judgment, and like any software or tool you're unfamiliar with, do some further investigation. 

Citation generators and academic integrity

Some instructors assign citation assignments with the sole purpose of having you learn how to create a citation from scratch and then grading your work. In these cases, you should verify with your instructor if the use of a citation generator is within scope of the assignment, as the assistance these tools provide would be in opposition to the assignment requirements.  If unsure -- check with your instructor, and check out the University's academic integrity page.

Citation generators and AI (artificial intelligence)

With the launch of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Chat GPT, Google Bard, and Perplexity AI, we're seeing a lot of citation issues.

In one case we have the creation of 'fake' citations.  This is where a person might ask AI to write something for them about a topic, and the AI tool will cite what it has generated with fake citations (usually comprised of components of various real citations).  These citations don't actually exist as entities as they were created by the AI tool. 

In another case, a person might ask the AI tool to "cite an article with two authors in APA" or something similar.  Sometimes it might do a good job, other times it won't -- so the lack of consistency should also be pause for concern.

As with any assignment, you will want to check with your instructor and ask if the use of AI is allowed, and if it is, you will want to be extremely cautious of the citations they generate.

Lastly, if you are allowed to use AI, you will need to cite that you used it.  Some suggestions for how to do so are presented on the Libraries' AI guide.

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