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Evidence Rules

If you are participating in Team Policy or Lincoln Douglas Debate this year and you haven't read the 2019-20 rules yet, you need to put a bookmark in your researching and read them now. New requirements have been added that will help clarify how evidence should be formatted and used in a debate round. These changes will substantially impact how you write your briefs and cases, so please take a look before you do anything else!

Here's a high-level summary of the most significant changes:

  • A full source citation is now clearly itemized. Prior to these rule changes, the wording on what should be included in a source citation was vague and caused confusion. The new requirements make it clear what should be included in your source citations. Please note, citations must be located directly above or below the quoted evidence — not formatted in a footnote or on a works cited page.

  • The rules now clearly state that evidence may not be edited together from non-contiguous sections of an article, study, or book. This means you cannot read two sentences back-to-back unless they were written that way in the original material. It is permissible, however, to read two different sections from the same source as long as they are formatted as separate pieces of evidence or you orally state that you are moving to a different section (e.g. "later in the article it says...").

  • Finally, any sentence you read must be read verbatim, from the first word to the ending punctuation, without any omissions or additions. There is an exception for parenthetical statements: These you may orally omit if they do not change the meaning of the quotation, but they must still be shown on the printed paper.

If you are in an evidence-sharing ring, you will need to make sure the evidence you use in the round is formatted correctly. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for what you present in the round, even if someone else gives you the card or brief.

For a more detailed look at how to handle evidence ethically, please read our 2019-20 Evidence Standards document. While this is not a rules document, it explains the philosophy and intent behind the rules and emphasizes the commitment to character we should be striving to achieve when handling evidence.

And in case you are not convinced yet, StoaBytes are full of essential information. So please read them in their entirety each month. You won’t regret it.

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