The ethics of generative artificial intelligence (AI) use in scientific manuscript content creation has become a serious matter of concern in the scientific publishing community. Generative AI has computationally become capable of elaborating research questions; refining programming code; generating text in scientific language; and generating images, graphics, or figures. However, this technology should be used with caution. In this editorial, we outline the current state of editorial policies on generative AI or chatbot use in authorship, peer review, and editorial processing of scientific and scholarly manuscripts. Additionally, we provide JMIR Publications’ editorial policies on these issues. We further detail JMIR Publications’ approach to the applications of AI in the editorial process for manuscripts in review in a JMIR Publications journal.J Med Internet Res 2023;25:e51584
Technology tools are useful for making the scientific writing process more timely and effective. Many advances have been made in terms of the tools available to help conduct more sophisticated statistical analysis, manage references, and check grammar. Among these advances, large language model (LLMs) are neural networks trained on large corpora of textual information that can be fine-tuned to respond to natural language queries in a conversational fashion. In late 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot  that uses an LLM, which has become enormously popular and a focal point for regulatory debate in a matter of months. Since then, countless LLMs have been developed and launched for research, commercial, and other applications.
The ethics of generative AI use in scientific manuscript content creation has become a serious matter of concern in the scientific publishing community [, ]. More generally, there are already broader calls for the regulation of AI, and LLMs in particular, in general public use [ , ]. This is because generative AI has computationally become capable of elaborating research questions; refining programming code; generating text in scientific language; and generating images, graphics, or figures. However, this technology should be used with caution. For instance, LLMs may produce errors and misleading information, especially when dealing with technical topics that they may have had limited data to train on. In the technical report released by OpenAI, it is acknowledged that Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT)–4 can produce biased and unreliable content [ ]. Such biased output can result from inherent biases in the data on which they were trained. A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that ChatGPT was able to generate a highly convincing, fraudulent scientific manuscript article in approximately 1 hour [ ]. The authors used tools to detect AI-generated text (AI Detector and AI Text Classifier), and the results were inconclusive, indicating that these tools were unable to determine that the manuscript was generated by ChatGPT. Finally, the authors were able to detect mistakes in the generated article, specifically in the references, as ChatGPT generated fictitious citations. These findings reinforce the importance of having well-established regulations around the use of ChatGPT in the scientific field.
For authors of academic manuscripts, key issues of concern include the need to fact-check AI-generated content of any form (including but not limited to textual information or graphics); assign accountability for AI-generated information; and disclose transparently the use of generative AI in producing any scholarly or scientific work, especially when it impacts the meaning and content of the information submitted for potential publication . For peer reviewers, additional issues pertain to the typical processing of manuscripts, wherein humans traditionally have generated peer review reports and issued editorial decisions on revising, rejecting, or accepting manuscripts. Currently, it is possible to prompt generative AI to facilitate these processes when given specific inputs and prompts as well. For editors, receiving AI-generated material in manuscripts (from authors) or in peer review reports (from peer reviewers) also warrant additional considerations.
In this editorial, we outline the current state of editorial policies on generative AI or chatbot use in authorship, peer review, and editorial processing of scientific and scholarly manuscripts. Additionally, we provide JMIR Publications’ editorial policies on these issues, with the goal of ensuring the integrity of the science published and the publishing process. We further detail JMIR Publications’ approach to the applications of AI in the editorial process for manuscripts in review in a JMIR Publications journal.
In scientific publishing, there is already historical precedent that the transparency of authorship is essential to the integrity of scientific publication . Regarding AI, general consensus already states that AI cannot be a listed coauthor on a manuscript because of the inability for the AI to be accountable for the content written [ , - ]. The lack of accountability and ability to give consent to be published as a coauthor would be consistent with not listing an AI tool as a coauthor [ ]. According to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidance, “AI tools cannot meet the requirements for authorship as they cannot take responsibility for the submitted work. As non-legal entities, they cannot assert the presence or absence of conflicts of interest nor manage copyright and license agreements” [ ]. The World Associate of Medical Editors (WAME) states in their Recommendations on Chatbots and Generative Artificial Intelligence in Relation to Scholarly Publication that “Chatbots cannot be authors” [ ]. One examination of ChatGPT (the free version of GPT-3) against the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) authorship criteria [ ] noted that the chatbot meets only 3 of 14 criteria for authorship [ ]. Unfortunately, before such widespread publisher policies and recommendations became the norm, some manuscripts and preprints have already been published that identified ChatGPT as a coauthor [ ].
At JMIR Publications, early guidance in our knowledge base of editorial policies explained that authors must appropriately include a description of the use of generative AI in the conduct or reporting of scientific work; otherwise, if this information is not a part of the study design (eg, in the Methods section of a manuscript), then providing acknowledgment of the use of generative AI in writing or creating text, figures, or other content for scientific publication is required [- ]. We welcome authors to submit relevant work to the flagship journal of JMIR Publications, the Journal of Medical Internet Research, which now has a section on generative language models (including ChatGPT), where it may be appropriate to submit work that uses such technology as a core component of the work ( ). If an author does not use AI to generate any portions of a submitted manuscript, it would be appropriate for the author also to provide a pertinent attestation in their cover letter on submission.
Such acknowledgements must be fully transparent, precise, and complete throughout the submission, editorial, and production processes and will be disclosed upon the publication of a manuscript, if accepted for publication after the disclosure has been provided . In addition, we strongly recommend authors to supply their transcripts, including complete prompts and responses, in supplementary files (whether or not it is published) as exemplified in Eysenbach [ ], as this serves as additional information for the peer reviewers or editor to consider in their evaluation of the manuscript.
Authors must also be cautious of the use of generative AI because of its predispositions to hallucination information and references [- ]. Because generative AI cannot be accountable for the outputs and possible hallucinations that they generate in response to a prompt, authors are accountable for fact- and reference-checking any references suggested by a generative AI tool. Authors must also be cautious of the potential for unintentional plagiarism (because the AI may not be able to properly source or cite literature) [ ] or overt AI plagiarism (the authors passing off or taking credit for the production of statements that were generated by AI). Either form of plagiarism is deemed not acceptable and would be examined carefully in accordance with COPE guidance [ ]. Authors may wish to adhere to the WAME recommendation that they “specify what they have done to mitigate the risk of plagiarism, provide a balanced view, and ensure the accuracy of all their references” [ ]. Furthermore, instances of suspected or potential scientific misconduct or violations of publication ethics principles, regardless of the involvement or use of generative AI, would be investigated in accordance with JMIR Publications policies, which adhere to COPE guidance.
|Guiding principle||Author’s responsibilities|
For Peer Reviewers
For peer reviewers, JMIR Publications adheres to expectations similar to that for authors: specifically, peer reviewers are accountable for the content of AI-generated comments submitted in a peer review. Consequently, peer reviewers are strongly advised to still ensure that the quality and content of the peer review meet the recommended standards described elsewhere in JMIR Publications policies . However, peer reviewers must remain cautious about the risks of such use, including but not limited to the perpetuation of bias and nonneutral language in AI use (eg, gender, racial, political, or other biases based on individual characteristics) [ , ] and information leakage or breaches of confidentiality [ , ] ( ). The latter point on the confidentiality of manuscript information warrants a more extended clarification: when authors agree to open peer review of their JMIR Publications manuscript (ie, on JMIR Preprints [ ]), information leakage is of lesser concern because authors have already consented to an open peer review process, and their manuscript is publicly viewable. JMIR Publications encourages open peer review [ ]. However, in some instances, authors wish to maintain a traditional, closed peer review process; in such cases, peer reviewers may risk information leakage by engaging generative AI in assisting them in the process of peer review report generation.
|Guiding principle||Peer reviewer’s responsibilities|
In addition to accountability and confidentiality, transparency is essential to ensure the integrity of the peer review process. Agencies such as the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have issued clear guidance that the use of AI in assisting a review with the grant peer review process is prohibited due to a breach of their confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements . Some publishers have opted to ban generative AI use or restrict use to in-house or licensed technologies [ , ]. The WAME states that “peer reviewers should specify, to authors and each other, any use of chatbots in the evaluation of the manuscript and generation of reviews” [ ].
At JMIR Publications, we adhere to this guidance of transparency and disclosure; we do not endorse a ban on generative AI in peer review, which can be counterproductive in various ways [, ]. Peer reviewers are expected to disclose and describe their use of generative AI ( ). As JMIR Publications follows single-blind peer review with unblinding only upon publication, the publisher may include a comment (Editorial Notice) at their discretion, which would accompany the publication history of a manuscript regarding a peer reviewer’s disclosure of AI use during the peer review process. Here, we further elaborate on some of the detailed considerations a peer reviewer must account for when considering generative AI use to support their personal peer review process.
In another example, Anthropic’s Claude also has clearly stated language in their July 8, 2023, Terms of Service (and ): “You represent and warrant that you have all rights, and have provided any notices and obtained any consents that are necessary for us to process any Prompts you submit to the Services in accordance with our Terms. You also represent and warrant that your submission of Prompts to us will not violate our Terms...including intellectual property laws and any privacy or data protection laws governing personal information contained in your Prompts” [ ]. Because peer reviewers do not have “all rights” or have not “obtained any consents” with regard to a manuscript they may review, JMIR Publications would not permit the use of the free version of Claude for assisting with peer review comment generation.
Peer reviewers for JMIR Publications journals are advised to carefully review the content of the Peer Reviewer Hub for guidance , including guidance on writing a high-quality peer review [ ]. Instances of suspected or potential peer review manipulation, fraud, scientific misconduct, or violations of publication ethics principles during the peer review process would be investigated in accordance with JMIR Publications policies, which adhere to COPE guidance.
AI is already in use by some publishers, as an attempt to optimize the editorial workflow. For instance, some publishers have publicly available tools where the authors can add the title, keywords, and abstract of their manuscript, and the AI tool will list the journals that this work is more suitable for. This approach could be time-saving for both the editors and the authors.
Similar to peer reviewers and authors, editors evaluating and issuing decisions about manuscripts are accountable for the content of their decisions and the final decision on the manuscript, whether it is accepted or rejected (). This includes whether the editor may choose to use generative AI to assist in the summarization of peer review reports or the generation of text for an editorial decision [ , ]. The transparency and maintenance of confidentiality again remain essential, in precisely the same ways as noted for peer reviewers: the editor is accountable for ensuring the confidentiality of the peer review process where it is required (ie, when authors choose not to engage in open peer review).
|Guiding principle||Editor’s responsibilities|
The accountability of parties using generative AI, transparency regarding complete disclosure, and the maintenance of confidentiality are fundamental in maintaining the integrity of the scientific record and are key components of JMIR Publications’ editorial policies. Because of the rapidly evolving nature of AI technologies, related policies, regulations , investigations [ ], and best practices [ , ], JMIR Publications looks forward to continuing to lead and evolve as an innovator in scientific publishing.
This manuscript was produced as a result of discussion among JMIR Publications staff and managers.
TIL and TdAC contributed to writing the original draft. TIL, TdAC, AM, and GE contributed to conceptualization, writing, review, and editing of the manuscript. TIL contributed to project administration. GE contributed to supervision.
Conflicts of Interest
TIL is the scientific editorial director at JMIR Publications. TdAC and AM are scientific editors at JMIR Publications. GE is the founder, chief executive officer, and executive editor of JMIR Publications, receives a salary and owns equity.
Anthropic Terms of Service, version 3.0, updated July 8, 2023.PDF File (Adobe PDF File), 185 KB
- OpenAI. URL: https://openai.com/ [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Jackson J, Landis G, Baskin PK, Hadsell KA, English M, CSE Editorial Policy Committee. CSE guidance on machine learning and artificial intelligence tools. Science Editor. 2023 May 1. URL: https://www.csescienceeditor.org/article/cse-guidance-on-machine-learning-and-artificial-intelligence-tools/ [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Anderson R, Vines T, Miles J. SSP conference debate: AI and the integrity of scholarly publishing. The Scholarly Kitchen. 2023 Jun 27. URL: https://tinyurl.com/yxy9w2ah [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Meskó B, Topol EJ. The imperative for regulatory oversight of large language models (or generative AI) in healthcare. NPJ Digit Med 2023 Jul 06;6(1):120 [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-023-00873-0] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- AI Act: a step closer to the first rules on artificial intelligence. European Parliament. 2023 May 11. URL: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20230505IPR84904/ai-act-a-step-closer-to-the-first-rules-on-artificial-intelligence [accessed 2023-07-07]
- GPT-4 technical report. OpenAI. 2023 Mar. URL: https://cdn.openai.com/papers/gpt-4.pdf [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Májovský M, Černý M, Kasal M, Komarc M, Netuka D. Artificial intelligence can generate fraudulent but authentic-looking scientific medical articles: Pandora's box has been opened. J Med Internet Res 2023 May 31;25:e46924 [https://www.jmir.org/2023//e46924/] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Hosseini M, Rasmussen LM, Resnik DB. Using AI to write scholarly publications. Account Res 2023 Jan 25:1-9 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- McNutt MK, Bradford M, Drazen JM, Hanson B, Howard B, Jamieson KH, et al. Transparency in authors' contributions and responsibilities to promote integrity in scientific publication. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 Mar 13;115(11):2557-2560 [https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.1715374115?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub 0pubmed] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Authorship and AI tools. COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics. 2023 Feb 13. URL: https://publicationethics.org/cope-position-statements/ai-author [accessed 2023-07-03]
- Chatbots, generative AI, and scholarly manuscripts. WAME. 2023 May 31. URL: https://wame.org/page3.php?id=106 [accessed 2023-07-03]
- Flanagin A, Bibbins-Domingo K, Berkwits M, Christiansen SL. Nonhuman "authors" and implications for the integrity of scientific publication and medical knowledge. JAMA 2023 Mar 28;329(8):637-639 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Stokel-Walker C. ChatGPT listed as author on research papers: many scientists disapprove. Nature 2023 Jan;613(7945):620-621 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Hosseini M, Resnik DB, Holmes K. The ethics of disclosing the use of artificial intelligence tools in writing scholarly manuscripts. Research Ethics 2023 Jun 15 [CrossRef]
- CRediT – Contributor Roles Taxonomy. CRediT. URL: https://credit.niso.org/ [accessed 2023-07-07]
- Teixeira da Silva JA, Tsigaris P. Human‐ and AI‐based authorship: principles and ethics. Learn Publ 2023 Jun 1;36(3):453-462 [CrossRef]
- Editorial Director. Do you allow the the use of ChatGPT or other generative language models and how should this be reported? 2023. JMIR Publications. 2023. URL: https://tinyurl.com/3t32zuvk [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Editorial Director. Copyright, licensing, attribution of TOC images. JMIR Publications. 2023. URL: https://support.jmir.org/hc/en-us/articles/115001352708-Copyright-Licensing-Attribution-of-TOC-images [accessed 2023-07-05]
- JMIR Copyediting Team. How should the "Acknowledgments" section be formatted? JMIR Publications. 2023. URL: https://support.jmir.org/hc/en-us/articles/360015982471-How-should-the-Acknowledgments-section-be-formatted- [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Eysenbach G. The role of ChatGPT, generative language models, and artificial intelligence in medical education: a conversation with ChatGPT and a call for papers. JMIR Med Educ 2023 Mar 06;9:e46885 [https://mededu.jmir.org/2023//e46885/] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Ji Z, Lee N, Frieske R, Yu T, Su D, Xu Y, et al. Survey of hallucination in natural language generation. ACM Comput Surv 2023 Mar 03;55(12):1-38 [CrossRef]
- Merz JF. ChatGPT just makes stuff up: a conversation on a controversial topic. The Hastings Center. 2023 Apr 4. URL: https://www.thehastingscenter.org/chatgpt-just-makes-stuff-up-a-conversation-on-a-controversial-topic/ [accessed 2023-07-16]
- Li J, Dada A, Kleesiek J, Egger J. ChatGPT in healthcare: a taxonomy and systematic review. medRxiv. Preprint posted on online on March 30, 2023.. [CrossRef]
- COPE Council. COPE flowcharts and infographics — plagiarism in a published article — English. Committee on Publication Ethics. 2006. URL: https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.2.2 [accessed 2023-08-29]
- Peer-review (FAQs for reviewers). JMIR Publications. URL: https://support.jmir.org/hc/en-us/sections/115000390167-Peer-Review-FAQs-for-Reviewers- [accessed 2023-08-04]
- Parsons CE, Baglini RB. Peer review: the case for neutral language. Trends Cogn Sci 2021 Aug;25(8):639-641 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Hosseini M, Horbach SPJM. Fighting reviewer fatigue or amplifying bias? considerations and recommendations for use of ChatGPT and other large language models in scholarly peer review. Res Integr Peer Rev 2023 May 18;8(1):4 [https://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41073-023-00133-5] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Addington S. ChatGPT: cyber security threats and countermeasures. SSRN Journal. Preprint posted online on May 9, 2023.. [CrossRef]
- Editorial Director. What are JMIR Preprints? JMIR Publications. 2023. URL: https://support.jmir.org/hc/en-us/articles/115001350367-What-are-JMIR-Preprints- [accessed 2023-07-07]
- Editorial Director. What is open peer-review? JMIR Publications. 2023. URL: https://support.jmir.org/hc/en-us/articles/115001908868-What-is-open-peer-review- [accessed 2023-07-07]
- JMIR Editorial Team. (For reviewers) how to write a high-quality peer review. JMIR Publications. 2023. URL: https://support.jmir.org/hc/en-us/articles/16470162812827 [accessed 2023-07-24]
- The use of generative artificial intelligence technologies is prohibited for the NIH peer review process. National Institutes of Health. 2023 Jun 23. URL: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-23-149.html [accessed 2023-07-05]
- Publishing ethics. Elsevier. URL: https://beta.elsevier.com/about/policies-and-standards/publishing-ethics [accessed 2023-07-24]
- Taylor & Francis Editor Resources. 2020. URL: https://tinyurl.com/4dwu7p4s [accessed 2023-07-24]
- Meyer JG, Urbanowicz RJ, Martin PCN, O'Connor K, Li R, Peng P, et al. ChatGPT and large language models in academia: opportunities and challenges. BioData Min 2023 Jul 13;16(1):20 [https://biodatamining.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13040-023-00339-9] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Terms of service. Antropic Console. 2023 Jul 8. URL: https://console.anthropic.com/legal/terms [accessed 2023-07-24]
- Abd-Alrazaq A, AlSaad R, Alhuwail D, Ahmed A, Healy PM, Latifi S, et al. Large language models in medical education: opportunities, challenges, and future directions. JMIR Med Educ 2023 Jun 01;9:e48291 [https://mededu.jmir.org/2023//e48291/] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Sallam M. ChatGPT utility in healthcare education, research, and practice: systematic review on the promising perspectives and valid concerns. Healthcare (Basel) 2023 Mar 19;11(6):887 [https://www.mdpi.com/resolver?pii=healthcare11060887] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Gao CA, Howard FM, Markov NS, Dyer EC, Ramesh S, Luo Y, et al. Comparing scientific abstracts generated by ChatGPT to real abstracts with detectors and blinded human reviewers. NPJ Digit Med 2023 Apr 26;6(1):75 [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-023-00819-6] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- GPTZero. URL: https://gptzero.me/ [accessed 2023-07-26]
- EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence. European Parliament. 2023 Jun 8. URL: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20230601STO93804/eu-ai-act-first-regulation-on-artificial-intelligence [accessed 2023-07-24]
- Zakrzewski C. FTC investigates OpenAI over data leak and ChatGPT's inaccuracy. The Washington Post. 2023 Jul 13. URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/07/13/ftc-openai-chatgpt-sam-altman-lina-khan/ [accessed 2023-07-24]
- Coiera EW, Verspoor K, Hansen DP. We need to chat about artificial intelligence. Med J Aust 2023 Aug 07;219(3):98-100 [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Hira R. NAM leadership consortium collaborates with leading health, tech, research, and bioethics organizations to develop health care AI code of conduct. National Academy of Medicine. 2023 Jun 20. URL: https://tinyurl.com/3c6hy4rh [accessed 2023-07-24]
|AI: artificial intelligence|
|API: application programming interface|
|ChatGPT: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer|
|COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics|
|CRediT: Contributor Roles Taxonomy|
|GPT: Generative Pre-trained Transformer|
|LLM: large language model|
|NIH: National Institutes of Health|
|WAME: World Associate of Medical Editors|
Edited by T Leung; This is a non–peer-reviewed article. submitted 28.08.23; accepted 28.08.23; published 31.08.23Copyright
©Tiffany I Leung, Taiane de Azevedo Cardoso, Amaryllis Mavragani, Gunther Eysenbach. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 31.08.2023.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.