Friday Mail Bag v2


I’m sorry this won’t be as comprehensive as the other posts have been, I’ve been kind of sick but these are important questions that deserve to be addressed.   I will make the 1ar question a separate post this weekend.

At the beginning of every camp they start with a lecture on how to do research. Is there any information you can add or build on from these introduction lectures that usually cover “here is why templates are good, here is how to use google and lexis etc.” What are the keys to transition from a novice to a debater cutting files worthy of reading in competitive out rounds? 

You’re already pretty smart if you agree the generic use a template camp lecture is kind of dull.  The template is vital and lexis is really important but knowing how to produce UNIQUE files requires alot more work.  I think your question needs to be divided into 2 parts.  1.) How to do better research  2.) How to make files better.  I think those are two important issues I will address the first mostly in this post, I might save the second for a later one

On a Meta Level, Be thorough- “Roy, I can’t find anything on XYZ, please find it for me” I hear this all the time at camp from kids who spend 15 mins looking for something use some crappy search terms and give up.  Debate is hard, doing good research is hard, so if you can’t find something quickly rather then give up ask yourself if you really have worked hard enough.  Some of the best articles I’ve found on stuff have been on page 63 of google results.  I could have given up 5 or 10 pages in, but I kept slugging through the stuff till I found what I needed.

Things you all don’t use enough but should

1.) footnotes- this seems simple enough yet its hardly utilized.  If you find articles relevant to your research see who the author quotes or references, they will likely either be people who write supporting articles, or articles to the contrary both of which is effective.  If you don’t scour through those you are letting valuable stuff go to waste.  This will be particularly important if people use law reviews extensively this year because those are littered with citations and references

2.) look up people quoted or mentioned in cards you do find.  The PR newwire impact people read to accidental launch impacts discusses a study released from the New England Journal of Medicine a much more well respected source that analyzes nuclear war, disaster response and prepardness.  If you had initially cut that card you would be wise to then go to the New England Journal of Medicine and cut that article too.   If an article talks about someone within it google them see what they write about that can be of use.  

3.) google authors, names of articles etc.  If an expert is well respected they will be discussed by others in the field, or cited by them.  

4.) Email authors with questions on where to look for stuff / resources.  There was a science editor for Reason Magazine this year that I emailed numerous times asking him about stuff he had written and other places and people who shared similar opinions to him to get more info.  They might not always reply but sometimes it can be of use.

5.) familiarize yourself with databases well.  JSTOR, EBSCO, Ejournals at a University, Factiva, CIAO, Stinet, Proquest, and questia are amongst some of the better ones.  Learn how to search them effectively and navigate through that.  I think alot of people even if they are on the right track aren’t efficient enough. 

6.) Start big and consolidate-  I heard a story about some novice debaters researching econ updates and one of them said they did this search into google news “US economy low” .  Obviously you want to mix up your terminology.  You won’t always find cards about political capital, but it might be labeled political clout, clout, influence etc.  When researching you want to start off with big over arching searches that produce lots of results, and as you continue and are more on track you can get into more specific search terms.  A search like “obama w/15 “political capital” w/5 “agenda” w/10 “LOST or Law of the sea” is likely to yield less results then a vaguer search like “obama w/25 “Political capital” or “clout” or “influence” or “bully pulpit” or “agenda” AND LOST or Law of the sea” etc.  

This is just a preliminary I will add more to this before camp begins

1 thought on “Friday Mail Bag v2

  1. Nathan Ketsdever

    Try to agree on a general team format. Without some sort of narrow agreement on formats, cutting and pasting can be a pain and a half.

    Batching what you have to do can help too.

    The beauty of interlibrary loan is pretty sweet.

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