Maintaining the integrity of the South African university: The impact of ChatGPT on plagiarism and scholarly writing

  • M. Singh University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg
Keywords: ChatGPT, artificial intelligence, teaching and learning, higher education, plagiarism, scholarly writing, connectivism, generative AI


Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have reignited discussions about the value of the university and its role in producing and facilitating knowledge. The invention of ChatGPT has led to differing responses in the academy, with some welcoming its abilities and others fearing that it may undermine what schools and universities do, calling it “apocalyptic” (Green 2022). These aspects impact the integrity of the academy and are therefore a fundamental contribution to the debate. The impact, as well as the perceived impact, of AI on teaching and learning in higher education has been consistently documented in popular media. Therefore, the aim of this article is to understand the impact of ChatGPT on plagiarism and scholarly writing. It contributes to the under-researched academic discourse of generative artificial intelligence and teaching and learning by garnering the views of three established professors in South Africa. The findings from this qualitative endeavour demonstrate that, for these professors, these kinds of technology are welcome, and students need to be taught how to engage with them rather than vilifying them. Much of the responsibility rests on the lecturers and the university to create a teaching and learning environment that allows for these technologies to enter the classroom, especially in the way we assess.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

M. Singh, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

Faculty of Education


Aydın, Ö. and E. Karaarslan. 2022. “OpenAI ChatGPT generated literature review: Digital twin in healthcare.” In Emerging Computer Technologies 2, ed. Ö. Aydın, 22‒31. İzmir Akademi Dernegi.

Biron, B. 2023. “New York City schools ban use of ChatGPT – becoming first US district to block AI technology as concern over cheating and plagiarism mounts.” HVkeS5jb20v&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADGy4APd59bsndqVBEwUU8DueSedVKfM1DYZOjHX-3TLxdIiUC3VoKf6L0ufng9vZsDABLqjoPBtFpIrPYQhqKCoFMMnh1qDBeCcbgyoi KyHs9RJ6Y38KT6i6K4hvhMX1v0shyqXAnSoEeHBCYdU_P8PQ66698Hz8ChQ0reCkd_M.

Blose, A. 2023. “As ChatGPT enters the classroom, teachers weigh pros and cons.”

Botez, B. 2023. “Chat GPT: Innovative AI or a threat to academic integrity?”

Council of the European Union. 2023. “ChatGPT in the Public Sector – overhyped or overlooked?” (Accessed 24 April 2023).

Denisova-Schmidt, Elena. 2017. “The Challenges of Academic Integrity in Higher Education: Current Trends and Prospects.” CIHE Perspectives No. 5. The Boston College Center for International Higher Education.

Garvey, C. and C. Maskal. 2020. “Sentiment analysis of the news media on artificial intelligence does not support claims of negative bias against artificial intelligence.” Omics 24(5): 286‒299. doi:

Green, P. 2022. “No, ChatGPT is not the end of high school English. But here’s the useful tool it offers teachers.” Forbes.

Hirsh-Pasek, K. and E. Blinkoff. 2023. ChatGPT: Educational friend or foe? Brookings.

Intelligent. 2023. “Nearly 1/3 college students have used ChatGPT on written assessments.” Intelligent 23 January.

Jiang, H., L. Emmerton, and L. McKauge. 2013. “Academic integrity and plagiarism: A review of the influences and risk situations for health students.” Higher Education Research & Development 32(3): 369–380.

Khatibi, M. and M. Fouladchang. 2015. “Connectivism: A review.” The International Journal of Indian Psychology 2(4).

Leymun, Şenay Ozan, Hatice Ferhan Odabaşı, and Işıl Kabakçı Yurdakul. 2017. “The Importance of Case Study Research in Educational Settings.” Journal of Qualitative Research in Education 5(3).

Lock, S. 2022. “What is AI chatbot phenomenon ChatGPT and could it replace humans?” The Guardian.

Motala, Shireen, Yusuf Sayed, and Tarryn De Kock. 2021. “Epistemic decolonisation in reconstituting higher education pedagogy in South Africa: The student perspective.” Teaching in Higher Education 26(7‒8): 1002‒1018 DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2021.1947225.

Mwita, K. M. 2022. “Strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research in social science studies.” International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science 11(6): 618‒625.

Rudolph, J. 2014. “Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a disruptive innovation in higher education?” M.Ed. dissertation, University of Adelaide.

Sabzalieva, E. and A. Valentini. 2023. “ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education.” Paris: UNESCO.

Sayed, Y., M. Singh, J. Pesambili, E. Bulgrin, and G. Mindano. 2021. “Crises and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Education Responses and Choices during times of disruptions.” Education International

Siemens, G. 2005. “Connectivism: A learning theory for a digital age.” International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2(1). 2023. “ChatGPT in the classroom.”

Sullivan, M., A. Kelly, and O. McLaughlan. 2023. “ChatGPT in higher education: Considerations for academic integrity and student learning.” Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching 6(1).

Sun, S., Y. Zhai, B. Shen, and Y. Chen. 2020. “Newspaper coverage of artificial intelligence: A perspective of emerging technologies.” Telematics and Informatics 53: 101433. https://

Sundar, S. 2023. “If you still aren’t sure what ChatGPT is, this is your guide to the viral chatbot that everyone is talking about.”

Thomas, A. and G. P. de Bruin. 2015. “Plagiarism in South African management journals.” South African Journal of Science 111(1/2): Art. #2014-0017.

UNESCO IESALC. 2023. “Higher Education for everyone.” Paris: UNESCO.

Van Dis, E. A. M., J. Bollen, W. Zuidema, R. van Rooij, and C. L. Bockting. 2023. “ChatGPT: Five priorities for research.” Nature 614(7947): 224–226.

Walker, J. 2010. “Measuring plagiarism: Researching what students do, not what they say they do.” Studies in Higher Education 35(1): 41–59.

Zhai, Xiaoming. 2022. “ChatGPT User Experience: Implications for Education.” or

How to Cite
Singh, M. 2023. “Maintaining the Integrity of the South African University: The Impact of ChatGPT on Plagiarism and Scholarly Writing”. South African Journal of Higher Education 37 (5), 203-20.