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These 4 Words Make It Obvious You Used AI to Write a Paper, According to New Research Scientists are increasingly using ChatGPT and other AI bots to write studies.

By Sherin Shibu

Key Takeaways

  • Four words have exploded in popularity in academic writing since ChatGPT launched: realm, intricate, showcasing, and pivotal.
  • A Stanford study tracked the occurrence of these words over time and found that the pressure to publish quickly may have made AI writing options appealing.

AI has infiltrated scientific research papers — and a handful of words give away that scientists may have had some writing help from ChatGPT.

A new Stanford University study published in arXiv suggests that since OpenAI's ChatGPT came on the scene in November 2022, researchers have steadily increased how often they use AI to help with academic writing.

In the first large-scale review of how AI has impacted scholarly writing, the Stanford researchers analyzed nearly a million papers published in arXiv, bioRxiv, and Nature from January 2020 to February 2024.

They looked for certain words that AI tends to overuse, words that exploded in popularity since ChatGPT launched: realm, intricate, showcasing, and pivotal.

Related: A New AI Chatbot Is Revolutionizing Business School Curriculum and Accreditation

Their findings, released in April, revealed a 6.3% to 17.5% growth in the use of AI over time.

The fastest growth was in the computer science department, where abstracts and introductions with common AI-used words rose to 17.5% and 15.3% respectively by February 2024.

The rising popularity of four common words used more by AI than humans in arXiv computer science abstracts. Credit: Stanford University paper titled "Mapping the Increasing Use of LLMs in Scientific Papers"

The researchers suggested that computer science might have grown the most quickly because academics in that department might have been more familiar with ChatGPT and have had better access to AI models.

Related: This One Word Is a Giveaway That You Used ChatGPT to Write an Email, According to an Expert

It's not just the Stanford study: Dr. Jeremy Nguyen, a senior researcher and lecturer at Swinburne Business School in Australia, shared findings specific to medical papers that showed a possible increase in AI writing.

Nguyen searched all PubMed articles published in the past 34 years for another popular word used by ChatGPT: "delve."

He found a remarkable uptick in research articles that used the word, suggesting that AI had been used to help write those pieces.

Scientists face increasing pressure to publish, especially because researchers are ranked based on how many times their articles are cited. In certain disciplines like AI research, that pressure can be more intense.

"The fast-paced nature of [AI] research and the associated pressure to publish quickly may incentivize the use of [AI] writing assistance," the Stanford researchers stated.

Related: AI Is Changing How Businesses Recruit for Open Roles — and How Candidates Are Gaming the System

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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