Majority of Members Surveyed Report Using Generative AI To Make Writing Process More Efficient
By Sierra Pawlak
TAA surveyed 1,900 members between September 24 and October 8, 2023 to determine how they’re utilizing Generative AI in authoring and promoting their textbooks, academic articles, and books, and to share that information with other members who have yet to begin using it. Just over 54% of respondents reported being primarily academic authors and almost 46% reported being primarily textbook authors.
Of the 82 members that responded to the survey, 40 percent said they have used Generative AI. Of that 40 percent, almost half said they’re using it to make their writing process more efficient, including helping them brainstorm, generate titles, summarize articles, generate discussion and reading questions for teaching, and altogether reduce time spent on early tasks in the writing process. Multiple respondents stated that AI helps them write emails, with one member saying, “it helps me move faster on functional writing… so I can concentrate my creative energy on writing that matters.”
Thirty-five percent of members reported using Generative AI to improve the quality of their writing, specifically editing grammatical and punctuation errors, and suggesting ideas and topics they may not have considered. Others cited its usefulness in refining their writing, such as cleaning up text and checking completeness on projects such as book and council proposals, and confirming they’ve covered important topics in literature and popular press. One member, however, warned to be “careful about re-writes the program suggests because sometimes [their] meaning gets lost in its revision.”
Thirty percent of respondents said they’re using AI to write a first draft, and 26% reported using it to form an outline. Several members said that AI helped them overcome writer’s block by getting a starting point so they can “get past the blank page challenge” because it’s “easier to revise than write.” One member said that AI helps them “take the emotion out of [their] writing in order to overcome anxiety and just get started.” Others surveyed said they used AI to draft questions on specific topics, presentation slides, and a first draft of a recommendation letter for a student.
Seventeen percent of respondents said they use AI to create marketing pieces to promote their works, including helping them “correctly address [their] marketing message better to their target audience.” Nine percent said they use it to conduct research, saying it was much faster than using Google and Google Scholar, and was helpful in pulling ideas together. Four and a half percent of respondents said they use AI for writing literature reviews, entire journal articles, or entire chapters. No one reported using AI to create illustrations or to write an entire textbook. (Percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents could select multiple options).
More than 90% of members who reported using AI said they used ChatGPT, with the other 10% reporting they use Writesonic, Research Rabbit, and GenText, among others.
Of the almost 60% of members that reported not using AI, about 37 percent said they need to learn more about it before they begin to use it in their writing. Thirty percent of those respondents said they didn’t know how it could be useful to them, with one member stating that it doesn’t seem applicable to their field. Eleven percent of respondents who reported not using AI said they’ve dabbled in its use, but didn’t find any value, while another 11% said they’re against the use of AI of any kind. Specifically, these members said that AI seems too much like plagiarism, they believe current methods of AI training are illegal, and/or they’re against its use until “the original creators can be acknowledged and protected” and until there are regulations and laws in place to combat this issue. Other members against AI usage cited a recent court case that stated, “AI generated material cannot be copyrighted since it is not written by a person,” while another member worried that AI generated content may not always be factually correct. One member expressed “no interest” in using AI in general.
Another group of members not interested in the use of AI said that it “seems contrary to the writing process” and that they “love writing and don’t want to outsource it.” Similar opinions were that they “want to write [their] own books” and “be responsible for [their] own product.” One member said that “[their] value to publishers and clients’ rests in [their] ability to create original content unassisted by AI,” while another member said, “It won’t be authored by me, but by machine… it defeats the creative and educated author.”
No one reported that their publisher prohibited the usage of AI, and about 35% said that they haven’t investigated AI and don’t know where to start learning about how it could be useful in their authoring.
Seventy-two percent of respondents said they would like to learn more about how Generative AI can be used to assist them as an author.
Several respondents said they would be interested in writing an article for the blog or doing a webinar on how they utilize Generative AI. TAA will be following up with those members and providing additional resources on members’ use of Generative AI.
Below are responses to open-ended questions and “other” responses:
How have you used Generative AI?
- To draft questions on specific topics.
- Identify topics I may have overlooked or not attended to adequately.
- In teaching colleagues, students about using generative AI.
- To test essay items from our test bank.
- I am not using it for anything I plan to publish.
- Brainstorming, generating titles, summarizing, refining conference proposals, editing
- Generate example sentences of vocabulary items, which I then rewrite (2) to give me ideas for dialogues in my conversation books by giving me a dialogue, which I then use to get the topic/ideas. I use it to generate ideas for situations in conversations.
- To clarify definitions that may contribute to writing.
- Help with book proposal.
- Mostly to correct errors.
In what ways have Generative AI tools benefitted you?
- Save time and provide ideas. A starting point which can be edited. Because what generated was in my area of expertise, I was able critically review content for accuracy.
- They confirm for me that I have covered important topics in the literature and popular press.
- To demonstrate responsible use.
- Gets past the blank page challenge – easier to revise than to write.
- Generated a quick outline and first draft as a framework or scaffolding to build upon.
- Helps me overcome writers block by just triggering a general organization of ideas but the content itself is not accurate.
- Much much faster than working with Google and Google Scholar when researching.
- Highlight resources and guide you in the right direction. Also, find key terms that were not previously considered.
- More quickly write things like emails or discussion questions used in teaching.
- AI helps me take the emotion out of my writing process in order to overcome anxiety and just get started. AI helps me move faster on functional writing, such as emails, so that I can concentrate my creative energy on writing that matters.
- They help me correct basic errors.
- They have helped me address my marketing message better to my target audience.
- They have made it easier to do research and pull ideas together.
- Getting IDEAS for conversations (I write language learning books).
- Parsing out similarities and differences.
- It generates ideas and things like reading suggestions very quickly – I use it in a variety of ways and have found it very helpful.
- Punctuation errors and alerting me to run-on or unclear sentenced. I am careful about re-writes the program suggests because sometimes my meaning gets lost in its revision.
- Cutting down time spent on early tasks, getting a starting point, bringing up ideas I had not considered, as a check on completeness.
- Grammar check and alternative word finding.
Please share an example of how you have used AI.
- I was asked to submit Jeopardy style nutrition questions for a student organization meeting – 5 categories with 5 questions each. Not for a class or credit and volunteer on my part. I didn’t really have time so used my ChatGPT app to help get a start. I tweaked questions and replaced some but helped!
- I request information on chapter topics and then seek to explore issues raised in the AI output.
- Clarify the distinctions between research methods and research.
- I use it the same way I use ChatGPT to improve my writing and the content.
- Developing a proposal for a grant.
- Researching topics, generating drafts of presentation slides, cleaning up text.
- I will type in questions to validate the thought process.
- For developing discussion questions for class, I put in the reference, tell it the level of students, and focus of the class and then ask for discussion questions that I post to guide the students’ reading.
- I use AI like I use Wikipedia, to get a sense of what is already out there. I use it to generate learning objectives based on a chapter summary or to come up with 10 possible titles for a textbook based on a description I provide. I’ve used it to identify grammatical issues or logical fallacies in texts and explain what’s wrong and how to fix it. I rarely use it for purely generative reasons because AI tends to be overly enthusiastic in its responses.
- To market and an online video course I am offering to premedical anatomy and physiology students.
I needed a dialogue with the words ARROGANT, DISTURB, and PROBLEM, so I ask ChatGPT to generate a dialogue of 20 lines with 2 friends… and I get a whole dialogue, which I would NEVER use… but I get the IDEA of 2 people talking about a PROBLEM with a coworker who is ARROGANT, etc. If I don’t like it, I hit REGENERATE and it gives me a new idea.
- Describe the key differences between terms like methods and methodology.
- To assign students in my class lines for a reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I asked: Can you break down for me how many lines each of the characters in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar has?
- I used Grammarly to edit a journal article and term papers this semester. The bulk of the suggestions from AI related to punctuation.
- To write a first draft of a recommendation letter for a student.
Why aren’t you using Generative AI?
- It seems contrary to “the writing process.” Also, AI generated material cannot be copyrighted Since it is not written by a person. (recent court case)
- I love writing and don’t want to outsource it.
- I want to write my own books.
- I’d rather be responsible for my own product.
- I believe that generative AI for writing research/clinical documentation is plagiarism.
- I believe current methods of training AI are illegal.
- It is not up to the level of usefulness in my field. Also, I like to think for myself.
- My value to publishers and clients rests in my ability to create original content unassisted by AI.
- I have not written anything substantive that I thought it could be useful for.
- I am against the use of AI until the work of original creators can be acknowledged and protected.
- It won’t be authored by me, but by machine. What’s the point of having people author chapters and books? It defeats the creative and educated author.
- It seems too much like plagiarism.
- Often material generated by AI is not factually correct.
- I’m against the use of AI until regulations and laws are in place.
- No interest in using it.
The survey is the work of TAA’s AI Committee, which was formed to stay abreast of Generative AI in relation to authoring and writing and will be working to provide resources, education, and support to members. A big thank you to AI Committee Members Bertha Amisi, Donna Elkins, Jessica Gullion, John Hodges, Vernetta K. Mosley, Jocelyn Nelson, Barbara Price, Margaret Reece, Linda Tucker, and Brenda Ulrich.
Disclaimer: Because our data is based on the responses of 82 members out of 1,900 total members emailed, our findings will most likely not represent the entire population of TAA members accurately. Survey sample is made up of members who have agreed to receive email from TAA.
Sierra Pawlak is TAA’s Member Services Specialist. She has a degree in Business Economics from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).