OHSU Introduction to Biomedical & Health Informatics Course Policy for Use of ChatGPT and Generative AI

William Hersh, MD
Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology
School of Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University

This page reflects course policy for the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) course that I teach called, Introduction to Biomedical & Health Informatics. I teach versions of this course in several OHSU programs, including:
ChatGPT and generative AI systems based on large language models (LLMs) can be a useful tool for learning all kinds of topics, including in biomedical and health informatics. These tools should not, however, be used to substitute one’s own knowledge. Students can “converse” with ChatGPT or generative AI systems to get ideas for answers to questions, but the final responses to discussion forums, quiz and test questions, and the term paper, should reflect their own thinking, judgment, and language.

It is critically important that students not "shortchange" their learning by being overly reliant on generative AI systems. While most scientific fields have long surpassed the amount of knowledge that can be maintained in a human brain, it is important to have a fundamental core of knowledge and understanding in memory to be able to apply critical thinking to problems and analyses. In addition, just as students must attribute use of papers, books, and other sources in their work, they must also attribute use of generative AI when it is used in discussion forums or assignments.

This policy is derived from the overall OHSU policy for academic integrity, including the use of AI. The OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program is developing a general policy for use of generative AI in courses, but in the meantime, I am adopting the following guidelines for course activities:
If you are a student and have a question on whether use of generative AI is appropriate, please reach out directly to me (email is best for initial contact).

As a guiding principle, we expect and require that all work submitted be the student's own, original work. When considering using such a generative AI tool, students should ask themselves: Will the tool’s output be something I will be turning in directly? In general, students may use such tools as a source of information, but not to produce output that they intend to turn in or as a replacement for a traditional cited reference.

Most ethical and conduct policies in our informatics educational programs, and in the work we subsequently do as professionals, are enforced through an honor code. We recognize we cannot police all inappropriate use of AI or other activities. We hope that students will find ways to use LLMs to enhance their learning but not substitute for or become dependent on it.

Last update: May 20, 2024