Answered By: Laura Marek
Last Updated: Jun 15, 2023     Views: 11

With AI making its way into search engines, one may find that AI makes up citations.  Because of this, librarians in the Purdue Library have received quite a few requests for articles that do not exist.

Here is some information about fake citations:  

McCarty Carino, M. (2023 April 13). Don’t be surprised by AI chatbots creating fake citations. Marketplace.

Hller, M. (2023 February 20). Why does ChatGPT generate fake references? Macquarie University: Teche.


Below is an example of how to verify if a citation is for a real item.


Altieri, M. A., & Nicholls, C. I. (2003). Genetically Modified Organisms: Risks and Promises. Agriculture and Human Values, 20(3), 219–226. Retrieved from


First take a look in the library to see if we have a journal with that title.

On the library's homepage, click on Publication Finder located just above the search box.

In that search box put the title of the journal:  Agriculture and Human Values

Click on Search.

It is looking hopeful for this citation!  The journal title exists and is in our collection.

The citation says the article was published in 2003.  The date range we have access to includes that year.

Click on the name of the database to be taken to the journal's page.


Select the year and issue that the citation indicates. 2003 and 20(3)

Then look for the page numbers that are indicated in the citation: 219–226

As you can see, the page numbers do not line up.  Nor does the title of the article match the citation that was provided.

A second way is to do a title search of the article.

To do that, go to the library's homepage and put the article's title into the search box: Genetically Modified Organisms: Risks and Promises

Change the drop down menu so that the word Title appears.

Click on Search.


There are only a few items in the search results and none of them have this exact title:

Another way to check is to see if the DOI that is provided takes you to the article.

To do that, you would put the DOI url provided in the citation into a url bar at the top of the screen.

For the DOI url provided, this is what came up:


One more way to double check is to go the journal's website and navigate to the year and then volume and issue number.

For additional information about searching with AI like ChatGPT:

Gurdeniz, E., & Hosanagar, K. (2023). Generative AI Won’t Revolutionize Search -- Yet: There are major practical, technical, and legal challenges to overcome before tools like ChatGPT reach the scale, robustness, and reliability of GoogleHarvard Business Review Digital Articles, 1–9.

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