Daily Archives: Friday November 17th, 2023


The pros and cons of integrating chatbots into research proposal writing

In recent times, the use of advanced technologies in various aspects of academia has become increasingly prevalent. One such technology gaining attention is ChatGPT, a powerful language model developed by OpenAI. This editorial explores the potential benefits and drawbacks of incorporating ChatGPT into the process of writing research proposals.

A Pros:

Efficiency and Time-Saving:

Pro 1: ChatGPT can significantly accelerate the initial stages of proposal writing by generating coherent and relevant content quickly. Researchers can use it to outline ideas, generate key points, and even draft sections of their proposals, saving valuable time.

Idea Generation and Expansion:

Pro 2: ChatGPT’s ability to generate diverse and contextually relevant text can be a valuable asset for brainstorming and expanding on research ideas. Researchers can use it to explore different angles and perspectives related to their proposed work.

 Language Enhancement:

Pro 3: ChatGPT can assist in refining the language and structure of proposals, helping researchers to articulate their ideas more effectively. It can suggest improvements in clarity, coherence, and overall writing style.

 Accessibility and Inclusivity:

Pro 4: ChatGPT can enhance accessibility for researchers who may face language barriers or challenges in expressing their ideas in writing. It promotes inclusivity by providing language support and aiding those with varying proficiency levels.

B Cons:

Lack of Domain-Specific Knowledge:

Con 1: One of the primary limitations of ChatGPT is its lack of domain-specific knowledge. It may not understand intricate details of highly specialized research areas, leading to inaccuracies or irrelevant content in proposals.

 Risk of Plagiarism:

Con 2: Overreliance on ChatGPT without proper verification may pose a risk of unintentional plagiarism. Researchers need to carefully review and authenticate the generated content to ensure originality and avoid potential ethical issues.

 Contextual Understanding:

Con 3: ChatGPT may struggle with nuanced contextual understanding. It might misinterpret the intended meaning or tone of certain phrases, potentially leading to misunderstandings in the proposal content.

 Ethical Considerations:

Con 4: The use of AI in research proposal writing raises ethical concerns related to transparency and authorship. Researchers must be transparent about the extent of AI assistance used and ensure that the intellectual contributions are duly acknowledged.

C Conclusion:

While ChatGPT holds great promise in enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of research proposal writing, researchers should approach its use with a discerning eye. Leveraging the strengths of ChatGPT for idea generation and language refinement can be valuable, but cautious oversight and domain-specific verification are essential to mitigate potential drawbacks. Ethical considerations should guide researchers in maintaining the integrity and authenticity of their work. In the evolving landscape of academic writing, striking a balance between harnessing the capabilities of AI and preserving the essence of human creativity will be crucial for the continued advancement of research endeavors.

The editorial above (A-C) was written and translated (into Norwegian) using the chatbot ChatGPT without altering the content (chat.openai.com; “Can you write an editorial on the pros and cons of using ChatGTP in writing research proposals?”). It took 10-15 seconds and is just a simple example of the ongoing revolution in the use of AI for language and text processing.

Artificial intelligence and language models like ChatGPT are rapidly making their way into academia. I don’t think the point is whether it can/should be used or not, but rather what it can be best used for and how. There are numerous current and future applications. The example above pertains to the use of chatbots like ChatGPT in writing research proposals. According to a survey in Nature of 1600 researchers, 15% already use ChatGPT to assist in writing research funding proposals, and a whopping 25% use it for writing scientific articles (doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-02980-0).

But is this considered cheating? I don’t think so, and I believe it is more of a powerful enhancement, for example, compared to using Google to gather systematic knowledge, where human interpretation and critical thinking are still essential.

Artificial intelligence with chatbots like ChatGPT can also influence and improve processes that may seem time-consuming and unnecessary. Most researchers probably agree that writing proposals in itself is useful for organizing project ideas, but the writing process itself takes a lot of time, and a significant portion of proposals focuses on details that may seem unnecessary. In another article in Nature (doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-03238-5), the value of many aspects of writing research funding proposals is discussed, especially now that proposals can be written with the help of chatbots like ChatGPT, and whether the entire application process should be changed.

How are we doing in terms of incorporating artificial intelligence into our work? We are likely lagging behind the international trend. It is crucial to adopt this technology. In the next FORUM, we have artificial intelligence and chatbots as a theme and think it should be included in the program for the K2 seminar next spring. UiB has a dedicated initiative in this area, UiB AI (https://www.uib.no/ai), where the head of the steering group is Professor Pinar Heggernes. There are already several courses and informational videos on the subject, see, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJbp2dB3hyA. I would also like to remind you that UiB has recently made Bing Chat Enterprise available to all employees at UiB. This runs the GPT-4 chatbot from OpenAI. Open bing.com and click on the Chat button.

It’s approaching the weekend. According to Bing Chat Enterprise: “Of course, there are many other things Norwegians like to do on the weekend, such as watching TV, going to the cinema, playing games, reading books, shopping, visiting friends and family, going to museums, going to cafes, attending concerts, etc. But outdoor activities, cabin life, and packed lunches are some of the most typical Norwegian activities that set them apart from other people.”

Have a great weekend!

Call for proposals SFI

New planned call for proposals in 2024 for Centres for Research-based Innovation (SFI)

  • The Research Council is planning a call for proposals for SFI-V in 2024
  • At least 8 new centres in autumn 2025
  • The call for proposals will be similar to SFI-IV, but RCN proposes major changes to the call process:
    • 2-step call for proposals
    • Max. 30-35 in 2nd grade
    • Interview as part of 2nd grade
  • Timeline (tentative)
    • Feb. 2024: call for proposals 1st stage
    • Apr./May 2024: application deadline 1st grade
    • Sep. 2024: results 1st stage
    • Dec. 2024: application deadline 2nd grade
    • Spring 2025: results 2nd grade
    • Autumn 2024: start-up of new SFIs

Interested? Contact Silke and Susanna as soon as possible.