How to Get Sources and Citations from ChatGPT

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One of the biggest complaints about ChatGPT is its difficulty verifying its information. This issue largely comes from the fact that earlier models, like GPT-3.5, did not offer sources or citations. However, with the start of GPT-4 and GPT-4o, more sources and citation resources have been introduced. While GPT-4 is exclusive to paid subscribers, GPT-4o is available to both free and paid users. Furthermore, there are varying levels of detail and frequency in citations.

Here are some ways to get sources and citations out of ChatGPT:

Write a Query and Ask ChatGPT:

Start by asking ChatGPT a question that requires detailed answers and sources. It’s essential to ask questions that allow for in-depth responses, providing more content for ChatGPT to draw from.

Remember that the information available to different models is cut off at different times: January 2022 for GPT-3.5, April 2023 for GPT-4, and October 2023 for GPT-4o.

Example Prompt: “Describe the Generative AI theories of use, pros, and cons.”

Ask ChatGPT to Provide Sources:

To get citations, you need to prompt ChatGPT directly. A simple request like “Please provide sources for the previous answer” can often get results. 

Push for Higher-Quality Sources:

Detail and specificity can improve the quality of sources. Specify that you need reliable and accurate sources, such as scholarly articles or peer-reviewed journals.

Example Prompt: “Please provide me with reputable sources to support my argument on [Topic].”

Attempt to Verify/Validate the Provided Sources:

Always verify the sources ChatGPT provides. It’s common to encounter broken links or unrelated topics. Use ChatGPT as a starting point, not the final authority. Cross-reference the names of articles or authors in Google for additional validation.

In Conclusion:

ChatGPT, especially in its newer versions, offers improved capabilities for sourcing and citations. It’s crucial to verify the provided information independently. Think of ChatGPT as a research assistant rather than a definitive source. Combining its outputs with traditional research methods can get you the most reliable results.


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