6 Reasons to Avoid Using AI for Academic Writing

In the last few years, the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionised many parts of our lives both at work and in our homes.  One of the areas that has attracted the use of AI tools for example ChatGPT or Google’s Bard is the way learners tackle academic writing. With AI-powered tools becoming increasingly popular, learners are often tempted to use them for writing academic assignments.  I am writing this blog to encourage learners and other users of AI to use the tools sensibly.  Firstly, it is important to consider the value of researching and compiling academic assignments that give the learner an invaluable opportunity to study a subject or discipline in-depth, and develop new skills that embed the learning so that it is remembered long after their study is completed.  I appreciate that AI tools offer convenience and efficiency in certain situations, however, there are several persuasive reasons why using AI for academic writing is not a sensible or wise choice. Here are my five key reasons for your consideration:

  • My first point is to highlight the lack of originality in work that has been generated by AIOne of the fundamental principles of academic writing is that learners are expected to produce an original piece of work that reflects their thoughts, research, or experience. While AI-generated content may appear to be well-written, it lacks the creativity and originality that is evidenced in true academic writing.  As a consequence, there is a very high risk of plagiarism which will undermine the integrity of your work and may even lead to the work being rejected or receiving a fail grade.
  • The second point to consider is that although AI may seem the ultimate answer to your assignment writing struggles.  When we consider the ‘intelligence’ in AI; the reality is that it has a limited understanding of the subject matter.  I am by no means an IT expert but anything I have read and seen leads me to conclude that AI systems operate based on algorithms and data patterns, which means that they lack the ability to comprehend and contextualise specific information.  If you rely solely on AI-generated content for your assignments this may result in inaccurate interpretations or factually incorrect statements. I have tested it from a number of perspectives and inevitably when researching a specific topic or author AI frequently misinterprets the information it generates.
  • Repetition is a big issue with AI-generated material.  If you are part of a large class and using AI to generate assignments for you, the chances of one or more learners generating the same or similar pieces of work are high.  Usually, this manifests itself in content or subject matter that was not presented as part of the curriculum, Americanised language that reads differently to samples of the original work written by the learner and distinctive repetitive formatting. 
  • Don’t be fooled by sophisticated advancements in AI technology, these systems are not infallible and can still produce errors or Inaccuracies in the content they generate. Assignment writing often demands factual accuracy and practical application i.e. referring to your own experience to deepen your knowledge of a particular subject.  Depending on AI to write assignments increases the likelihood of errors slipping through undetected, potentially compromising the credibility of your work and your reputation.
  • AI-generated assignments are limited when it comes to customisation and adaptability. AI writing tools use predefined parameters and templates, which may not always align with the specific requirements and guidelines of your academic assignments.  Most assignments involve a certain amount of tailoring the content to meet the unique expectations of tutors, awarding bodies or sponsoring organisations e.g. ETBs, Nursing Homes, etc. While AI can support basic formatting and structure, it will not adapt to your nuanced writing style and experience and may not meet specific academic criteria for the programme you have signed up for.
  • Missed learning opportunities; I have saved my most passionate reason for not using AI (apart from the integrity piece which is central to the entire conversation) as my last point. One of the most significant disadvantages of relying on AI for academic writing is the missed opportunity for genuine learning and skill enhancement. Academic assignments serve as valuable opportunities for learners to research topics, think critically, and expand their writing skills. By outsourcing these tasks to AI, learners deprive themselves of the chance to engage actively with course material, explore diverse perspectives, and refine their academic skills, ultimately hindering their intellectual growth and progress.

Using AI to generate academic assignments breaches integrity by promoting plagiarism, as the work lacks originality and thought. It undermines the educational process by prioritising shortcuts over learning and critical thinking (it’s OK to make mistakes; these too are a learning opportunity). AI-generated assignments fail to reflect the learner’s understanding of the subject matter, misleading tutors, employers and institutions about their true capabilities. It creates an unfair advantage for those who use it, compromising the fairness of academic evaluation. Ultimately, reliance on AI for assignments diminishes the value of education by devaluing the importance of genuine learner effort and growth. It is also worth remembering that there are new and emerging detection tools available that are equally as sophisticated as the AI platforms themselves.   By embracing the challenges of academic writing and investing time and effort into honing their skills, learners will gain greater satisfaction and long-term benefits from their educational journey.