Julienne DeSanto
Julienne DeSanto
Helios Scholar
School: University of San Diego
Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
Mentor: Kara Karaniuk 
PI: Stephanie Buchholtz, PhD

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Responsible and ethical use of LLMs in research:analyzing policies, identifying opportunities and risks, and recommending guidelines for research institutions

The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, has incited great concern within the past year, especially in research institutions and universities. While some universities have been proactive in formulating clear policies for AI and LLM use, others are slower in issuing a comprehensive response as they are working to collaborate with stakeholders in order to best understand the capabilities, limitations, and potential implications of the new technology. The absence of clear guidance and policy may lead to issues of plagiarism, research misconduct, and a lack of public trust in scientific research. This research project analyzes the existing policies and guidance at top research universities, identifies opportunities and limitations of LLM use for research, and recommends best practices and guidelines for research institutions.


Of the 75 universities examined, 19 universities had no guidance or policy found on their official website. The majority of universities with clear guidance and official policy focused on academic integrity, with few mentioning research integrity. AI offers exciting opportunities to streamline tedious tasks throughout the research process, potentially shortening time to publication, but there are many ethical and technical risks. Research institutions should urgently establish clear guidance, emphasizing importance of data privacy, transparency, and accountability, to ensure LLMs are used in a responsible and ethical manner.