the written rounds
Teams that advance into the Round of 64 will begin a single-elimination, written debate tournament – volleying essays back and forth with an opponent via e-mail. Sides are determined by blind draw.
Each team writes two papers – a constructive essay and a rebuttal essay. For the 2020-21 competition, the exchange of essays for the Round of 64 follows the following schedule:
Round of 64
Nov. 18 - Affirmative teams submit their Constructive essays
Dec. 2 - Negative teams submit their Constructive essays
Dec. 9 - Affirmative teams submit their Rebuttal essays
Dec. 16 - Negative teams submit their Rebuttal essays
Following the exchange of essays, judges will review the essays and select the advancing teams. The process begins anew as the "Top 32" teams compete for their chance to advance to the "Sweet 16" round.
The following tips, written by members of our alumni organization, the IPPF Circle of Champions, will help guide each team engaging in the written rounds.
Overall: Written debate has some peculiarities compared to oral debates.
Your opponents and judges have access to your works cited. As such, be careful not to quote out of context and to research your sources' credibility and consistency.
Be careful with your word choice and leave no room for doubt when constructing arguments.
Reinforce the flow of arguments and why/how they build upon one another – do not assume your reader is as well versed in the topic as you.
Avoid long block quotes – judges are interested to hear how your Constructive synthesizes different sources to create an argument.
Vary your sentence structure and vocabulary to keep your reader engaged.
Proofread with care. Document your sources in line with the competition guidelines.
AFFIRMATIVE CONSTRUCTIVE (Max: 2,800 words)
The Affirmative Constructive is your chance to set the tone of the debate and propose a framework to assess the round. Remember to define key terms and lay out your contentions in a logical, well researched, and organized manner. The Affirmative Constructive should focus on building arguments affirming the topic. You may find that using case studies, implementation plans, and historical examples are helpful to build your Constructive – but they are not a requirement. Think about how your opponent might react to your contentions and anticipate possible counter-arguments in constructing them – but resist using word count in your Constructive to explicitly refute possible counter-arguments.
NEGATIVE CONSTRUCTIVE (Max: 2,800 words)
The Negative Constructive is the Negative’s first chance to comment on the resolution. It is important for Negative teams to build their own position before refuting the Affirmative’s stance. Be sure to agree/disagree on definitions and framework early-on. You may find using case studies, counter-plans, and historical examples helpful to build your Constructive – but they are not a requirement. As you cannot bring up new constructive arguments in your last Negative Rebuttal, make sure you’ve presented your contentions clearly. There is no perfect ratio of word usage that should be spent on Constructing vs. Rebutting, but guide the rest of the debate by directly highlighting the important clashes that your position answers better.
AFFIRMATIVE REBUTTAL (Max: 1,700 words)
The Affirmative Rebuttal should balance reinforcing affirmative contentions in light of negative challenges, while also rebutting the negative constructive. It is important for the Affirmative Rebuttal to suggest why the affirmative position best resolves the resolution – linking back to the framework proposed in the Constructive. Make sure to include a succinct, clear summary of the key issues that decide the debate in your favor, and weigh those issues against the ones provided by your opponent.
NEGATIVE REBUTTAL (Max: 1,400 words)
The Negative Rebuttal is the shortest round in word-count. This is intentional. The Negative Rebuttal should be a pointed summary of the debate and lay out how the negative position best answers the resolution. Do not lay out new contentions, as these will not be considered by the judge, since the affirmative cannot react. Make sure to include a succinct, clear summary of the key issues that decide the debate in your favor, and weigh those issues against the ones provided by your opponent.