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How AI impacts on academic publishing

  • 26 April 2024
  • By Priya Madina
  • This HEPI blog was kindly authored by Priya Madina, Director of External Affairs and Policy at Taylor & Francis.

The London Book Fair 2024 shed light on numerous critical issues currently impacting the publishing industry. On March 14th, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion addressing one of the most recent and swiftly evolving changes—generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). By harnessing the power of AI responsibly: researchers, publishers, and policymakers can foster a more transparent, equitable, and trustworthy research environment.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that these benefits come hand in hand with inherent risks that must be carefully considered.

During my session, I delved into two key aspects of AI and academic publishing:

  • Research Integrity challenges using AI in Academic Publishing
  • Benefits of using AI responsibly in Academic Publishing

While AI offers unprecedented opportunities for equity, accessibility, and combating misinformation and disinformation in academic publishing, the technology also presents significant challenges to the integrity and legitimacy of scholarly content.

Here, we delve into the pressing issues that AI imposes on academic publishers like Taylor & Francis, and the broader implications for researchers, editors, and reviewers alike.

Research Integrity Challenges with AI in Academic Publishing

Papermill Expansion and its Ramifications

The proliferation of papermills—entities producing fraudulent research papers—poses a formidable challenge to the entire academic publishing industry. AI-driven technologies contribute to the exponential growth of these papermills, exploiting vulnerabilities in the system. As John Gapper warned in the Financial Times, “…if an unreliable linguistic mash-up is freely accessible, while original research is costly and laborious, the former will thrive”.

Misinformation and Disinformation Proliferation

AI-driven misinformation and disinformation campaigns bring to light a critical threat to research integrity and global stability. The distinction between unintentional misinformation and deliberate disinformation is easily blurred, amplifying the risks of false information influencing crucial decisions. A key example of this being elections: The World Economic Forum stated that a wave of AI driven misinformation and disinformation that could influence key looming elections, poses the biggest short-term threat to the global economy. This underscores the urgent need for robust mechanisms to combat the spread of deceptive content.

Challenges in Detecting AI Misuse

Discerning AI usage presents a formidable challenge for publishers. Authors may exploit AI tools to manipulate research outcomes, posing difficulties in accurately detecting AI usage in submissions. The reliance on authors’ honesty about AI use and the risks associated with Artificial Intelligence highlights the need for solutions to ensure research integrity.

Moreover, instances of AI misuse extend to the hacking of citations for increased credit. Fraudulent users leverage AI technologies to artificially inflate the impact and visibility of their research papers, further complicating efforts to uphold scholarly standards.

Benefits of using AI responsibly

Increased Efficiency and Speed in Research Processes

One of the major advantages of integrating AI into the research landscape is the exponential increase in efficiency and speed. AI-powered tools can address time-consuming stylistic or language issues, empowering researchers to focus on the substance of their work rather than grappling with formatting or linguistic barriers. This not only accelerates the research process but also enhances the quality and accessibility of scholarly content.

Equity in Writing Proficiency and Accessibility

For non-native English speakers, navigating the intricacies of academic writing can pose significant challenges. AI technologies offer tailored assistance to address language barriers, thereby levelling the playing field and fostering equity in writing proficiency. By eliminating biases stemming from formatting or stylistic errors, AI ensures that scholarly contributions are evaluated based on their merit rather than linguistic proficiency.

In addition, AI supports the production of scientific knowledge in multiple modes, including audio visual and other creative formats, making scholarly content more accessible to a wider audience.

Development of Reliable Trust Markers

At the heart of research integrity lies trust. AI technologies offer a promising avenue for developing reliable trust markers that signify adherence to the scientific method and ethical standards. Partnerships like Dimensions Research Integrity and Ripeta exemplify the transformative potential of AI in this realm. By leveraging vast datasets and sophisticated algorithms, these initiatives generate trust markers such as funding statements, ethical approvals, and data availability statements, bolstering transparency and accountability in scholarly research.

AI Note-Takers During Interviews

AI-enabled notetaking can be especially beneficial during interviews. AI note-taking tools transcribe conversations in real-time, capturing nuances and insights that might otherwise be overlooked. This not only streamlines data collection but also enables researchers to focus on active listening and analysis, thereby enriching research findings during interviews.

AI-enabled multimedia content

AI helps generate different forms of scholarly content beyond traditionally text-based format. Systems such as Text-To-Speech (TTS) can convert written text into spoken words. AI can also generate video content based on textual descriptions. By enabling multimedia content, it enhances discoverability of research and encourages interdisciplinary interaction. AI algorithms can be used to recommend relevant research content in different forms based on researchers’ preferences and historical interaction which ensures the suggested content is highly relevant to their interests and introduces new content that they may not have discovered.

In conclusion, it is important to address research integrity challenges by responsibly utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI), guided by ethical frameworks. With the potential for AI to positively impact academic publishing, provided ethical standards are upheld, we have an opportunity to revolutionise scholarly communication. By embracing AI as a catalyst for positive change and fostering a culture of integrity and collaboration, we can navigate the complexities of the digital age while ensuring transparency, equity, and trust in scholarly content.

Read here for summary of the panel discussion, written by the Chair, Rob Johnson and generated (in part) by generative AI!

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1 comment

  1. Ed Collins says:

    If an idea or thought has not passed a human conscience, is it worth listening to? The so-called AI-enabled benefits do not appear sustainable; blurred boundaries between ethical and unethical use will inevitably degrade the whole collective exercise of the pursuit of knowledge; we will simply get ever more information of ever lower reliability and significance. The whole generative AI trend is mostly an etude in the erosion of meaning.

    Nothing but extremely strict rules and a widespread willingness to wean us off overly automated processes will save academic integrity.

    For starters, let us stop counting the number of publications as a meaningful metric of a researcher’s quality of work.

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