Evidence Standards, Briefs, and Public Forum

PFDebate.com, a great Public Forum resource, released this statement  today that is worth reading. It is a review of the December Champion Briefs Public Forum file. I have reposted it because this is an excellent example of what not to do with your evidence. Here you will find examples of card-cutting and taking evidence out of context.

This also should serve as a reminder that although evidence briefs are a useful tool for debate, you should be doing your own independent research. Even if you use evidence from briefs, make sure the sources you choose to cite are in fact represented correctly. Debate briefs should not be a shortcut in your research and debating. Use them as a tool to supplement your own research as well as a tool you need to test before relying on what is published. This should be a word of warning to all brief-dependent debating.

– – – – – – – – – – –

It is with a heavy heart today that we release the results of our review of the December Champion Briefs Public Forum file. As researchers and camp directors, Champion Briefs staff are teachers and mentors in this activity, and we hold them to the highest standards of ethical evidence production. Sadly, several examples in their December file fall well short of these expectations. 

We begin by citing Champion Briefs’ own “Evidence Standard,” which is published here: https://championbriefs.com/blog/the-evidence-standard

We applaud the ideals set forth in this document. Unfortunately, much of the evidence produced in their December product is inconsistent with these standards. We found examples of cutting evidence out of context, eliminating text of the original source without indicating that was the case, deliberately excluding portions of paragraphs inconsistent with the claims advanced, and other untenable research practices. If students were asked in a debate round or elsewhere to defend this work, they would be unable to do so. We have detailed our findings in a document included in our December Final Focus file as well as posted to our website: http://www.pfdebate.com/uploads/PFDebate-evidence-ethics-statement_Nov2013.pdf.

The National Forensic League has recently provided guidelines for evidence in debate, and these rules are forthcoming in all debate events. Having been held to the highest evidence standards as debate coaches over the last two decades and former NDT/CEDA debaters, we appreciate these standards. No competitors and especially no brief company should ever produce evidence derived from misrepresentation or distortion of an author’s work.

We purchased PFDebate.com frustrated with the quality of evidence produced by some other brief companies and dedicated to higher standards. In an effort to address these poor practices, we will continue identifying unethical cutting of evidence in briefs. We never want students or their coaches to be held accountable for or unable to trust the briefs they purchase. Thank you for your continued support of PFDebate.com.

All our best,

Jason Sykes & Julian Gagnon


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