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Author Topic: A question about evidence standards and email correspondence  (Read 8615 times)
kearney
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Posts: 23


« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2013, 07:31:29 AM »

Open source arguments are about evidence that's already been read. I don't know of any "open source good" arguments that also make the case that all new affs should be disclosed as soon as written, which is what pre-round posting demands. As for evidence falsification, you could still post a fake article before the round and claim the author emailed it to you before.

New AFFs can certainly operate as "gotcha" debate strategies, but not in the same way as this example. In theory, hard working debaters can predict new affs b/c they've read a ton of topic lit. An article that has never been published in any forum is not analogous. The "open source good" arguments DO still value critical thinking and in-round debate strategy b/c debaters still create new or different versions of arguments, but they also just help to reduce opacity-related problems of previously read arguments.

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Honestly, this is something I hadn't thought about. But...if a later version has a paragraph added, that's obviously not harmful to the person receiving the updated version. If, however, a section is removed or rewritten, that is an issue. In that case, it's the obligation of jpw234 (or whoever is reading the evidence) to stay up to date on what the latest version of the article says. Otherwise you're not citing "so-and-so's article this-and-that." Again, however, like the faking-evidence argument, it's not intrinsic. Posting the article before your round will not affect whether or not you read out of date cards. Only staying up to date on the latest version of the paper will do that, and that is not affected by when you disclose the evidence.
Reading older versions of that paper would be a problem with an individual staying up to date on what their author says, and not their pre, post, or in-round evidence sharing practices.

There's a big difference between changes in an "outdated article" and changes in a non-published, working article. Most obviously, the decision to publish matters--the author or journal acknowledges that the state of the article is complete. I wouldn't be comfortable posting an article about democracy and the public sphere I wrote last semester b/c I'm not sure I correctly used a particular theory. Of course, many authors change their opinions and produce conflicting articles, but that's very different from correcting mistakes in the editing or review process.

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed that the author okayed the article to be posted. What about authors that ask debaters NOT to read their articles for certain arguments? Debaters usually ignore that advice b/c it's not strategic. That's one of the reasons I started to think that debate should maybe just be played with the existing pool of resources. Debaters should still contact authors, but the goal of that communication should not be to manufacture evidence. Why not email authors just to gain a better understanding of their work? Or email authors to see if they could point you toward other research?

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At this point, it appears that (once again) I, compared to the rest of the community, am far more lax in my interpretation of what is and is not ethical with evidence. So I'd advise jpw234 to post the whole thing online if the goal is to avoid controversy.

Easy with the ethics bomb. Some of us are just suggesting that, in certain circumstances, some things are not evidence. If a debater says, for example, "a political science professor said that judicial review is not a way to restrict war power authority," is that unethical or is that just not evidence? I'm just saying it ain't evidence.
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kearney
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2013, 07:39:12 AM »

Kearney -

I don't understand the request that jpw234 post it before the round. What unfair advantage is gained by not posting it? If someone stumbles across the article's cite before the round as jpw234 did, they'll be in the exact same position jpw234 was. Their "access" to the article is just the same. If they take the initiative to email the author requesting the paper, good for them. If they move on and give up, then they're not as good a researcher and should not be rewarded. I see no obligation to make the article more accessible for his/her competitors than it was for him/her.
My last post applies to much of this. I'm also not convinced that any contact with the author would produce the same result. What if I sent an email that just said, "has the article for this abstract been published yet?" The author might inform me that it's still in the editing process, but it will hopefully be published soon. Of course, if that's my aff, then I may take the time to coax the article out of the author. Gonzo pretty succinctly phrased it: "The article must absolutely be posted in a public space for it to count as evidence that I would consider in a debate."
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Ermo
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« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2013, 10:15:27 AM »

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed that the author okayed the article to be posted. What about authors that ask debaters NOT to read their articles for certain arguments? Debaters usually ignore that advice b/c it's not strategic. That's one of the reasons I started to think that debate should maybe just be played with the existing pool of resources. Debaters should still contact authors, but the goal of that communication should not be to manufacture evidence. Why not email authors just to gain a better understanding of their work? Or email authors to see if they could point you toward other research?

The existence of a hard line between debater and author is difficult to maintain. If debaters were thought of by universities as undergraduate authors, there might be a LOT more debate participation than we have today.

Debaters do author - you can find some of their work in tag lines posted here: http://opencaselist12.paperlessdebate.com/xwiki/wiki/opencaselist/, If the program is open source, you can find a greater number of the debaters' own words.

Judges are authors, and you can find some of their work posted by searching here: https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml

This meets a minimal standard for 'published' (made available to the general public), but obviously lacks the peer review processes associated with most academic journals. I'm not sure the peer review process is necessarily strong in other sources that are accepted without question, such as evidence from blogs written by people who may or may not be qualified, or even factually accurate. The process of testing an argument in a debate round IS a form a peer review, although it is obviously quite different from traditional peer review at academic journals.

To my thinking, however, there is another challenge. We TREAT evidence in debate assuming that the author, who may lack critical distance in relation to their topic, at least has critical distance related to who wins a given debate round. More precisely, we assume their use words because they mean those words, not because the phasing could be particularly useful in relation to how debate arguments are structured. If debaters write evidence, we fear the word choices will be made strategically, and the resulting evidence will get greater weight as a result. Sometimes a former debater writes an article, and that article includes "cards" which are considerably better than average - perhaps because debaters write argumentatively, or perhaps because the author imagines possible future use of the card in a debate round.

To counter this, it would be helpful to know if a particular source was "debate-influenced" so that its power-wording could accounted for. If so, an opposing debater or judge might be empowered to consider this fact when comparing the quality of the evidence against the quality of other evidence.

Easy with the ethics bomb. Some of us are just suggesting that, in certain circumstances, some things are not evidence. If a debater says, for example, "a political science professor said that judicial review is not a way to restrict war power authority," is that unethical or is that just not evidence? I'm just saying it ain't evidence.

I agree that "ethics bombs" aren't helpful to the discussion.

I appreciate the willingness of the original thread author to get a feel for what the community thinks, and I'm not convinced there is a community consensus beyond "deception bad" (e.g. if the source is debate-influenced, that info should not be withheld). In some ways, this train has left the station - there are commonly read cards ABOUT debate by former debaters who have visions of what they think debate should and should not be - or, what kinds of arguments should win and lose. There are lots of publications quoted that former debaters wrote - probably some cards are read where the debater does not KNOW the author's prior connection to debate. There are materials that did not pass an academic peer review process which help win debate rounds.

I have no idea how to uninvent all the uniqueness questions raised by a hard line on this question. Perhaps a group comparable to the Council of Tournament Directors could be formed to determine if there are elements of consensus among judges over best practices. And, if consensus is too strong a term, perhaps we could find an easy way where judges could "vote" beyond a specific round that a certain practice is appropriate so you could tell if 80% supported or 80% opposed doing what you propose. Absent that, perhaps uncertainty about how an opponent or judge would react to such evidence is itself the trade off for reading this sort of evidence.

Since there is not currently such a group, the idea of of posting or linking materials in an easy to find location (such as CEDA forums or open case list) seems a better practice than hiding it. Most of the normal places we find evidence can be inferred from being attentive to opencaselist, but perhaps putting new sources or new locations out there would help the diligent debater predict the new aff from the author's forthcoming article.

Final note - discussions about how particular evidence is or should be used is one of the 4 publication themed requested by Timely Interventions. I'm happy to help anyone brainstorm if they want to turn their argumentatively-informed opinion into a submission. Gmail is ermocito.
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brubaie
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Posts: 77


« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2013, 02:24:05 PM »

Evidence should be publicly available, and immediately accessible, BEFORE being introduced in a debate round. Issues of publication, multiple drafts, etc. have been well-developed below, but I’d like to raise three other issues; outcome reporting bias, time lag bias and inaccessibility.

Before I proceed, I want to clarify that none of this is an attack on JPW, whose intentions seem pure, but instead a caution to others that they shouldn’t blindly trust the purity of their colleagues’ intentions. Debate strives to be open, and I am open to most everything in debate, but it’s also okay for debate to say “no” to some well-meaning practices if the potential for misuse is too high. 

One of my classes is studying “media bias” and flaws in reporting. I think there are a few textbook biases that this model enables; outcome reporting bias and time lag bias.

1. Outcome reporting bias. In “Addressing Reporting Biases,” Sterne et al define outcome reporting bias as “selective reporting of some outcomes but not others, depending on the nature and direction of the results.”

While this usually refers to scientific or political reporting, it’s equally relevant here. As Kearney asked, what’s to stop someone from withholding a reply from an author, or a draft of a new publication, if it doesn’t say what they wanted it to say?

This issue came up my junior year, but its positive resolution was simply good fortune. One of the nation’s best 2Ns e-mailed a CAFOs author seeking more information for a “grazing DA” link (God bless the ag topic, right?) The author e-mailed back an Aff-leaning reply and also posted the exchange to their blog, which I soon cut for our 2AC to the grazing DA. Because the exchange was made public by the author, all ended well.   

Had the author not published the exchange, which many wouldn’t, it would be a lose-lose situation. If the response benefited the questioner, it would eventually become public knowledge, but not until that person had gotten their “first shot” at reading it in a debate round. If the response didn’t benefit the questioner, that exchange would just go into that person’s inbox, not to the community at large.

“New aff” is different. It’s a collection of multiple, publicly available articles, constructed in a creative (and, usually, terrible) way no one else has thought of. The building blocks are publicly available material. The building blocks in this hypothetical are neither publicly available nor immediately accessible.

2. Time lag bias. Again borrowing from Sterne et al, time lag is defined is “the rapid or delayed publication of research findings, depending on the nature and direction of the results.” The information in question here is withheld at the discretion of the possessor. Similar to outcome reporting bias, the possessor retains an artificial power to manipulate WHEN something becomes public knowledge at their whim. 

3. Inaccessibility. Even if others can e-mail the author for the article after the fact, it would be impossible for anyone to read the full text of the article until they contacted either the author in question, or the debater who possesses the article.

What if someone wants to duplicate that research AT the tournament, say by prepping the neg the night before by reading the full 1AC article? Kids are taught that specific case research, whether it’s policy or critical literature, produces clash and all the other things that make debate good. Are we willing to sacrifice that fundamental goal to allow one extra article into the debate sphere? A student doing that research would just have to cross their fingers that the author got back to them as quickly as they got back to JPW. Hope they check their school e-mail on the weekends! The alternative is that they’d have to hope their opponent sent them the article the night before. My experience with “night before elim cite requests” is pretty horrible, and I’d bet others have had similar luck.

Again, JPW seems like a devoted and honest researcher, and Kearney was right to say that this isn’t a question of ethics, but simply a question of what’s best for debate. Ensuring that evidence is publicly available, and immediately accessible, BEFORE being introduced in a debate round produces benefits that outweigh the DA to excluding an article or two until it’s published.
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JonZ
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Posts: 29


« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2013, 03:10:34 PM »

Will post more when I have the chance, but I do want to clarify that the "ethics bomb" was meant for myself and not as a serious criticism of anyone else. Just when I think about past discussions on here, I seem to be quite willing to defend practices that many others deem unacceptable.
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loghry
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Posts: 47


« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2013, 08:39:03 PM »

I'm not saying that the following is a perfect model by any means, but it may at least be helpful to know how another team addressed similar concerns. Last year the George Washington/UDC-CC debate team produced a fair amount of evidence (including our affirmative solvency advocate) via in-person and email interviews. We posted the interviews on a central website (http://debateandtherealworld.com/articles.php) and mentioned in the card citation that the evidence was produced in an interview and listed the names of the people conducting the interview. We always posted the evidence before reading it in round and received feedback from several judges that it would not be permissible to read the evidence if it wasn't publicly available at the time it was read. Another key component of our practice was that we posted the questions we asked the interviewee. This is important because many debaters complained that the practice could be manipulated by debaters asking "leading questions." Being able to point to the question asked is helpful in asserting the legitimacy of the evidence. Throughout the year we had several teams make theoretical objections to the evidence and and several judges (on their own initiative) gave the evidence less weight. On the whole, however, we found it to be an incredibly useful practice both in terms of competitive success and debate pedagogy.

damn. that Jason Matthews interview is hot.
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