Tag Archives: disclosure

Norms Regarding Disclosure: Citations or Full Text?

There is an interesting discussion occurring on the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association Forum (the successor to the long-running and incomparable MN Debate Web) about the debate community’s norms regarding disclosure of citations. Dan Kauppi, the debate coach at Eden Prairie High School, proposes that the existing norm in favor of disclosure of citations be replaced with a norm in favor of disclosure of the full text of evidence.

Here’s an open question for the community: Why is it a convention that teams should be obligated to give cites to their opponents after a round, but not the full text of the cards?

If we believe in open exchanges of evidence that has already been used in the interests of improving the quality of future debates, why do we force each other’s squads to go through the time waste and hassle of finding the original source materials when it’s just as easy to copy and paste the card in its entirety as it is to send someone “Smith, ‘Article Name,’ 76 Journal of Expensive Access 274, 1993?” To the extent that disclosure of evidence previously used is beneficial (increases equity, allows for more in depth debate and preparation and research), those advantages are much better accessed by just handing over the evidence.

While some might not be persuaded by the “it takes too much time to look up” argument, figuring that part of the value of the debate is in learning research skills (regardless of how tedious that may be), I think another more serious issue is one of resource access. Lending privileges at university libraries, access to journals, Westlaw, and/or Lexis are all extraordinarily expensive and out of reach for most squads.

I’m not so concerned with cites that just have a webpage attached, but in my experience a lot of teams purposely cite to difficult sources (and I’ve seen camp lectures this year where the instructors tell students to choose sources that are hard to look up). A norm which includes cite disclosure but doesn’t require card disclosure really makes research unnecessarily difficult when you have expensive database access, and impossible when you don’t.

A very easy solution to implement would just be the purchase of a simple sheetfed scanner to be used after the round for whatever relevant evidence the debaters want for later examination. In addition to solving all the problems I mentioned above, it would save the requesting team the time and delay of waiting for opponents to fulfill requests for cites, and save those getting the requests the hassle of fulfilling them.

The responses to Kauppi’s initial post have been varied but mostly against the proposed change in norms. Do you have an opinion either way regarding this issue? Should teams be willing to share the full text of evidence they have read in debates instead of just a citation? Please take a look at the MDTA thread and share your thoughts.