AI and Academic Writing

Dear Students, 

With the 2022 launch of AI chatbots (e.g. ChatGPT), academic writing faces new challenges. As you probably know, these chatbots are designed to lead conversations on a large variety of themes, and they work best when discussing general topics in a somewhat superficial, introductory fashion. You can ask the chatbot, ‘What is film noir?’ or ‘What is feminist film theory?’ and the bot will give a fairly correct answer. However, it is still not very efficient in answering questions that involve creative combinations, deeper analyses and interpretation, e.g. the extension of existing knowledge to new areas. This means that you – as of yet – cannot tell it to analyze a specific scene of Double Indemnity. If you type in the question “Analyze the “How fast was I going, officer? scene from Double Indemnity”, the answer will include grave factual errors (try this yourself, and you will see what we mean). We are writing down this example to demonstrate to you that our job as cultural critics in the Arts and Humanities field is exactly this: interpretation. And the AI has not yet taken over this task. 

However, this situation will most probably change very quickly, as the AI bots develop and learn with incredible speed, and maybe within a few months or half a year, their capacity will extend to deeper, analytical-interpretative skills and combinations. We do not know what the future holds, but based on the present situation, it will not be long before this stage is reached. 

As educators, we have asked ourselves the question: what are our students doing in this situation? What are we going to do about this situation, in which texts can easily be generated about a large variety of topics? How do we adjust the framework within the program? What are our strategies?

Trust us: the new situation is very difficult for us as well! The fact whether a text was generated with AI or not cannot be told with 100% accuracy. But when passage after passage, we are faced with a text that goes on and on about generalities with a very good English grammar, we become suspicious. But this suspicion is not enough proof, we need to catch you with facts in order to be able to tell: your text was generated with the AI chatbot. And that does not happen too often… so we need to find a different solution.

What you should know:

  1. As a general direction, most educators who teach in the English-language MA program, have decided to move towards exam-type assignments, and away from written essay-style assignments. However, it is at the discretion of each instructor to decide whether s/he will follow this model or not.
  2. Instructors can/will still assign essay-style assignments, but: if there is a suspicion that a text submitted as a student assignment contains parts generated by AI, our department reserves the right to have the student personally interviewed by a committee of faculty members in order to see whether the students is really in command of the literature, the terminology etc. 
  3. In any assignment (this includes theses, production diaries, course assignments, exams, homeworks etc.) using uncredited text of any source, which includes AI generated passages, is plagiarism. Plagiarism has severe consequences, please see the university regulations here: 

We are not luddites, and we are not trying to demonize technology here. AI bots are good for several things, and you will learn about these uses in Academic Writing or Methodology classes. But you should not hand over to the AI the job of articulating your creativity and/or academic arguments. That is your job, that is why you decided to study at a university!

Should you have any questions about this, please talk to your tutor!

Best wishes:
Faculty of the Film Studies Department