How ChatGPT and other AI tools could disrupt scientific publishing


When radiologist Domenico Mastrodicasa finds himself stuck while writing a research paper, he turns to ChatGPT, the chatbot that produces fluent responses to almost any query in seconds. “I use it as a sounding board,” says Mastrodicasa, who is based at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “I can produce a publication-ready manuscript much faster.”

Mastrodicasa is one of many researchers experimenting with generative artificial-intelligence (AI) tools to write text or code. He pays for ChatGPT Plus, the subscription version of the bot based on the large language model (LLM) GPT-4, and uses it a few times a week. He finds it particularly useful for suggesting clearer ways to convey his ideas. Although a Nature survey suggests that scientists who use LLMs regularly are still in the minority, many expect that generative AI tools will become regular assistants for writing manuscripts, peer-review reports and grant applications.

Those are just some of the ways in which AI could transform scientific communication and publishing. Science publishers are already experimenting with generative AI in scientific search tools and for editing and quickly summarizing papers. Many researchers think that non-native English speakers could benefit most from these tools. Some see generative AI as a way for scientists to rethink how they interrogate and summarize experimental results altogether — they could use LLMs to do much of this work, meaning less time writing papers and more time doing experiments.