How to Use AI for Academic Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide

At Moxie, we believe that, when leveraged ethically and responsibly, artificial intelligence (AI) can push the boundaries of human creativity, discovery, and communication.

Let’s start by considering the spectrum of human-synthetic generated writing (Knowles, 2024). At either end of this spectrum is human and fully synthetic (AI) outputs. Human-in-the-loop and machine-in-the-loop writing is positioned between these extremes (Knowles, 2024). With Human-in-the-loop writing, the human guides the writing process and does not offload the entire rhetorical load to AI tools. Comparatively, when engaging in machine-in-the-loop writing, the human allows the AI to perform more of the rhetorical load, with the human’s involvement being more of a supervisor, which may be appropriate for some academic purposes. We believe these concepts to be vital for developing guidelines around the use of AI in writing processes, particularly in academic settings.

Spectrum of Human-Synthetic (AI) Generated Writing

 

In our work with novice researchers and graduate students, we’ve identified the need for a structured approach to guide AI use in academic writing. This is where the ‘AI Sandwich Framework’ comes in. This framework is designed for human-in-the-loop writing, placing the human writer at the center of the process, with AI assistance in the initial and final writing stages.

 

AI Sandwich Framework

Step 1: Initial AI Input
Begin by brainstorming and ideating with AI. For example, you might use AI to brainstorm literature review outline structures or explore counterarguments for your thesis.

Step 2: Human Writing
Next, write an initial draft without the help of AI. Continuing with the above literature review example, you would draft a section of your literature review, integrating your ideas from the initial interaction with the AI.

Step 3: AI Feedback
Then, return to the AI for feedback. For instance, you might ask for suggestions on improving clarity, coherence, and style or to check for potential gaps in your argument.

 

By following the process outlined above, you can harness the power of AI to:

  1. Brainstorm outlines and refine initial ideas
  2. Overcome writer’s block
  3. Ensure logical flow and coherence in your arguments
  4. Identify writing areas that need more development or clarification
  5. Polish your language and style

Remember, the goal is to use AI as a tool to augment your own writing abilities, not to replace your unique insights and expertise. As you become more familiar with AI-assisted writing, you’ll develop a better understanding of how to integrate these tools into your research and writing workflow effectively.

References

Knowles, A. M. (2024). Machine-in-the-loop writing: Optimizing the rhetorical load.Computers and Composition, 71, 102826. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2024.102826

Watkins, M. (2024, June 8). The price of automating ethics. Rhetorica. https://marcwatkins.substack.com/p/the-price-of-automating-ethics

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