Best Practices: Stay Up to Date!

Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.

Like many Public Forum topics, the September/October 2013 topic is pulled from the headlines. On one hand, this is great because there will be a lot of available research that is current and relevant to your topic. On the other hand, this means that you must stay up to date on recent developments. While judging at a tournament the last weekend of September, I was struck by how few teams brought up the recent changes in Iranian policy regarding the nuclear program. President Rouhani’s change of stance on talks with the US was taken as a new opportunity for the prevention of an Iranian nuclear program by some. For others, it was empty rhetoric that would not change the Iranian state’s decision to proliferate. In any case, every debater should have known this change was occurring! Both Pro and Con should have prepared evidence and block updates to reflect the changing world.

Stay up to date on your working knowledge of the topic!

One of my favorite ways to stay abreast of topic developments is through the New York Times topics feature. The New York Times culls its own publications as well as others by topic in one neat and tidy page.

Iran has its own page.

This page includes:

  • Chronology of important events
  • Headlines from Around the Web
  • Article from the New York Times
  • Multimedia
  • General Information on Iran
  • Search articles on Iran from the New York Times

All of the features are helpful for both initial research and staying up to date.

There is also a Topic page for the Iranian Nuclear Program.

Another novel invention of the Internet you should be aware of is the RSS feed. An RSS feed will syndicate and publish brief summaries of articles outside of the normal website host. If you look to the bottom right column of the Iran Topic page, you’ll see the option to Subscribe to an RSS feed on Iran as well as get alert e-mails. Both are great options for keeping track of updates and do not require you to visit the New York Times website for updates.


You should always be up to date, especially with all the functions the internet offers to bring you the latest updates! Remember, whether you like it or not, you are never done researching a topic until the month is over.


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