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15 December 2010

Guide to Chairing and Adjudicating a Worlds Debate

With Worlds approaching most of the attention will be on the debaters.  However equally important is the quality of adjudication.  The Botswana adjudication team have published an excellent adjudication briefing on With that in mind this is a good time to republish the official guide to Chairing and Adjudicating a Worlds Debate to supplement the briefing by Botwsana.  Anyone travelling to Worlds as a judge (or even as a debater) should read and understand this guide.

Guide to Chairing and Adjudicating a Worlds Debate

by Omar Salahuddin Abdullah, Ian Lising, Steven Johnson and others

This booklet is intended as a guide, to assist you in performing effectively in your principle role as an adjudicator in this competition, and to help you fulfil the other important responsibilities that are likely to be asked of you. These include things like: convening and chairing a debate, keeping time, conducting a post-debate adjudicators' discussion, and finally giving feedback and results to debaters. We understand that every experienced adjudicator will have developed an individual method for the way in which he or she runs a debate, records that debate, and gives feedback to teams and individual speakers. We are also aware that the type, quality and duration of experience will vary considerably from one individual adjudicator to another in a tournament of this type.

For the first time, in 1998, adjudicators were asked to give an oral adjudication, or feedback, at the conclusion of each of the first six rounds of debating (preliminaries). It is designed to accomplish a number of objectives; all of these being established by Council in response to the needs of debaters as they have been expressed over the years. The first of these relates, of course, to the development of better debating. It has been a criticism of the World's format in the past that debaters, teams and coaches have almost no access to the kind of constructive criticism that would allow them to hone their skills during the preliminary rounds of the competition. Moreover, teams could only guess at how well they were doing during this stage, based primarily on the kind of company they were debating in as the early rounds progressed.

With the introduction of an oral adjudication, delivered by the Chairperson, at the end of a debate, the debaters will know their finishing position (first to last) and the points (3 to 0) that they will have been awarded for that particular debate. Similarly, the adjudication will indicate how and why the adjudicators have arrived at their decision and precisely what teams and individual speakers did well, and what they did not do so well (constructive criticism). The oral adjudication then provides debaters with exactly the kind of constructive criticism that they need.

The second group of objectives relates to the development and refinement of adjudication at Worlds. Oral adjudication provides an insight into the way that adjudicators observe and adjudicate debates; one that will not only benefit debaters, but also adjudicators. The discussion leading to the decision-making stage gains a new importance as the Chair now has to advance the collective opinions of the panel in order to justify the unanimous or consensus decisions that are made when the feedback is given. This encourages all of the adjudicators on a panel to be particularly considerate and careful in the processes of observation, recording, decision-making, justification and tabulation.


3.1 Pre-Competition Workshops
In every major international competition these days, all those registered as adjudicators for the duration of the competition will have to attend a seminar/workshop. It is important that you attend this seminar, even though you have a wealth of experience in World's adjudication. This is because the Chief Adjudicator for the competition will have certain specific things that he/she will want you to focus upon in your adjudication and, as these will differ in perspective from previous competitions that you have attended, you will need to know them too.

Similarly, once you register as an adjudicator, you can expect to adjudicate in all of the preliminary rounds of that competition. If you are adjudicating well, and the feedback that the Chief Adjudicator's Panel is getting on your post-debate discussions is good, then you might be honoured with selection to adjudicate after the break. In this light, once you register as an adjudicator, you should commit yourself to acquitting that responsibility until the Chief Adjudicator indicates that your services are no longer required. This means turning up to every briefing on time and in an appropriate physical and mental state.

3.2 Rules and Regulations
As an adjudicator, you should take some to familiarise yourself with the rules of the competition. Any questions that you think you might want to ask during the seminar should be noted down, no matter how silly you might think them to be. Even if you don't ask them during the seminar proper, you can always approach one of the adjudication panel immediately after the seminar is over.

3.3 Testing and Accreditation
Each of these pre-competition seminars will end in an examination or test. This commonly takes the form of an adjudication of a live exhibition debate, staged there and then, or the observation and assessment of prerecorded videotape of a selected World's style match. At the end of the test-debate, you will be given some time to go through your notes, arrive at a decision (finishing positions) and then give your justification for this in written form. Your familiarity with Worlds’ Rules will also be tested. This will result in your name joining a pool of adjudicators with similar levels of skill, something which will in turn permit the Panel adjudicator in charge of the adjudicators tab to balance the panels (members) in terms of experience and skills.


4.1 Getting There
Adjudicators should get into the habit of carrying around what might be recognised as 'the tools of the trade', or an adjudicator's kit, if you prefer. At the very least, this must consist of a pad of paper and a writing implement. A watch is fairly essential. You should have a digital watch if no stopwatch is available to you, just so that you can time speeches for yourself.

You will be part of a briefing that precedes each and every round. This is your opportunity to ask the Chief Adjudicator and members of his/her panel for any further clarification of the rules, their application and for help in solving any problems that you are having in your adjudication of your rounds. This also an opportunity to address your particular concerns to that same panel. Similarly, listen to any announcements regarding adjudication processes that are made during these briefings.

At some time during the briefing, the match-ups will be either displayed on a screen (via OHP transparency or 'Power Point' slides), or photocopies of the draw will be handed out. These lists will tell you which room you will be adjudicating in, who will be on the panel with you and which one of you will be chairing the panel. You will also know which teams you will be adjudicating and the respective positions that they will be debating in.

The other things that you should consider, as the list of matches is revealed;

Whether there is a potential conflict of interests created because you have been scheduled to adjudicate your own university, or people with whom you have relationships that are likely to bias your judgement.

Whether you have adjudicated one or more of the teams in the forthcoming round more than twice in succession.

Whether there are other things that make the potential adjudication of that match difficult for you, and therefore likely to affect your adjudication of the round.

Raise these concerns with either the Chief Adjudicator, or one of his/her panel of deputies, as soon as you recognise them.

At the appointed time, the motion will be released to both debaters and adjudicators. You should write this down as well, checking tomake sure that you have the exact wording, as it is given. Debates should commence fifteen minutes after the motion has been announced (Worlds’ Rulebook 3:1.3), so you should arrive at the venue of your match at least two or three minutes before that.

When the time has come for the debate to start, the Chair of the panel of adjudicators should start things off by calling teams into the room and saying something like, "I call this house to order". The Chair may then make some opening remarks.

The panel member responsible for timing speeches starts his or her watch as soon as the speaker starts speaking (not as soon as he or she stands up, clears the throat or shuffles some papers).

4.2 Being There
From that point onwards, the debate progresses with speakers being thanked for speaking by the Chair (functioning as nominal Speaker of the House) as they conclude their speeches, and subsequent speakers being introduced by title, position or name, or combinations of these, as their turn comes to speak.

The panel member responsible for keeping time should try to give clearly audible signals (Worlds’ Rulebook 4:1.6). A sharp slap or knock on a flat surface (such as a table or a book-rest) with the flat of the hand will normally suffice. If a speaker begins to run overtime, it is not necessary to knock continuously, or otherwise signal that the prescribed optimum time is being exceeded. Good time management should be the responsibility of individual speakers and their teams, not the timekeeper. In this regard, it might be a good idea for the Chair of the panel to remind speakers during the opening commentary that it is acceptable for speakers to receive time signals from their teammates.

Other than these invitations, thanks and time-signals, the adjudicators do not interfere in the debate, being involved in taking notes which detail the process and progress of the debate and observing those aspects detailed in the Worlds’ Rulebook 8-12: 3.1-4.4. The only time at which an interjection may become necessary from the Chair of the panel is in the event that teams or individuals are becoming unacceptably and inappropriately obtrusive during the speeches of other members. This will be times at which the members not holding the floor have begun to indulge in behaviour that amounts to things like heckling, barracking and the advancement of otherwise malicious interruptions in the speech of the member holding the floor.

It should be noted that these terms are subjective, and that the competition attracts many different styles of debating which are acceptable and appropriate in such a forum (Worlds’ Rulebook 11: 4.4.2). However, when adjudicators on a panel begin to feel that the manner of members is becoming inappropriate in such cases, then the issuance of a verbal warning to that effect, directed towards the individual, team or bench that is behaving in such a way, allows those thus warned to amend such behaviour before adjudicators begin to penalise them for the perceived breach of debating decorum. At this point, the Chair may call for “order” to be restored to the round. In this way, a clear signal is sent to those verging on the offensive and they have the option to curtail that behaviour before it begins to affect their own team's manner marks.

Remember that what is, or is not, acceptable to you in this context is largely a matter of common sense, but it is better to send a clear signal to debaters in danger of overstepping these bounds before it starts affecting their marks/grades for the debate and allow them the benefit of the doubt up to that point.

If you are concerned that someone has overstepped these bounds, whether subjective or not, discuss this matter with the others on your panel at the conclusion of the debate before you reach a hard and fast conclusion.

4.3 Note-taking and making
The note-taking/making process is an important one. Not only should such notes provide you with a fairly complete description of the debate after it has been concluded, it should also present you with concrete reasons why you have reached your own particular conclusions as to how individual speakers and each of the four teams has performed. You should try to record, for example, the degree to which individuals we keeping in touch with the dynamics of the debate through things like POIs and intersections. You should also be able to indicate, within a particular speech, whether POls have been accepted, when, what they consisted of and how the speaker holding the floor at the time responded to them.

You should also be able to track the logic and flow of an argument or idea through your own notation and determine whether statements have been left largely unsupported (asserted) (Worlds’ Rulebook 8: 3.3), whether speeches have a reasonable balance and are consistent (Worlds’ Rulebook 8: 3.3.3-3.3.4) and whether speakers have misrepresented things said earlier in the debate, among other things.

An individual adjudicator’s approach to note taking is likely to be markedly different from person to person. The main thing is that you develop a means of accurately charting what has happened in the debate.

4.4 The Observation Process
The observation process is also important. You should be watching how readily a speaker's manner develops a rapport with the audience (if any - or your panel, if not), how she or he stands, gesticulates and is expressive during the delivery of their speech. Similarly, you should watch for things such as how members not holding the floor continue to communicate with each other during the course of the debate and maintain contact with it through the POI and more general interaction (appropriate reactions to statements being made; laughter, etc.).

4.5 Conclusion of the Round
When the last speaker has concluded his/her remarks and retaken his/her seat, it is customary for the Speaker, or Chair of Adjudicators (in the event that he/she is taking the role of the Speaker of the House) to give the debaters "permission to cross the floor". This is so that teams can shake hands and congratulate each other on a successful debate.

It is pertinent at this point to tell members that they can withdraw while a decision is made by adjudicators, in which case they must all withdraw until asked to return to the room.


5.1 The Integrity of Opinions, Decisions and Processes
Either way, the discussion that is then held between adjudication panel members is confidential, and its course and specifics should not be made known to individual debaters. This confidentiality is essential if adjudicators are to maintain a degree of professionalism, and neither to undermine, nor be undermined by, their fellow adjudicators.

Consensus decisions are exactly that. Different adjudicators see debates in different ways. That's exactly why we have panels of adjudicators. However, we should avoid making individual perceptions about a particular debate, or a particular adjudicator, common knowledge. This in no way restricts the kind of advice that you may be asked for by a particular speaker or team: it merely asks of you that you are considerate of your colleagues in advancing your own comments and suggestions.

5.2 Arriving at a Decision
At the end of the debate, your panel begins the process of discussion and decision-making. While the following is not presented as either a schedule or a checklist for this process, it is clear that these major components will each have to feature somewhere in the process of your deliberations.

5.3 Time to Reflect
The first thing that should happen, after the debaters, audience and television crew (it happens!) have left the room, is that the panelists should take a few minutes to review their notes before any form of discussion begins. During this 'quiet time' individual panelists should highlight items, arguments, comments and so on, that they consider to be critical in terms of the debate, its outcomes and their respective decisions.

Don’t let any of your preconceptions or individual knowledge on the motion affect the outcome of the round. It is absolutely unacceptable for a judge to say, “If I were in the round, this is what I would have said. And since they failed to bring that up, they should be penalised for it.” Your decision should not be based on what wasn’t or what should have been what said, but ONLY on what was said by the debaters during the round.

Don't let any of your preconceptions about the degree of difficulty imposed bv the wording of the motion on teams (on either side) create notions of sympathy which then bias your grading in their favour (or against them).

Do consider each team (and speaker) as having a specific range of roles that they must fulfill in the debate. Teams and speakers have responsibilities and roles which are often markedly different, but nonetheless vital to the successful progress of a debate.

Don't lose sight of the balance in an individual speech. There should be a natural and appropriate portion of time devoted to definitions, rebuttal arguments, the development of arguments in support of a case, summaries, and responses to questions and challenges. A speaker who spends six minutes haranguing the opposition and only starts on his or her portion of the split as the second single knock of the gavel sounds is not delivering a very balanced speech! Keep an eye on the watch as speakers move through transitions from one phase of a speech to another. Not all speakers will 'signpost' these transitions, but you must endeavour to recognise them anyway.

Do continually test arguments for their logical development, relevance to the case being presented (or argued against) and the validity of any support (examples, models, statistics, etc.) that is delivered in respect of these arguments.

Don't ignore cries of misrepresentation, squirreling, self-serving definitions, slides and so on. Check these claims against your notes before you judge them to have been validly or invalidly made.

Do enjoy the debate, but don't communicate anything specific to the debaters as you observe it and take notes. This is sometimes as innocent as an inadvertent nod of the head at the moment that a speaker advances the weakest argument in the history of parliamentary debating, but the apparently duplicitous nod suddenly makes it appear to be potentially the best one, and suddenly the whole complexion of the debate changes. The key here is to be sufficiently conscious of your own body language and reactions to keep them consistent with the kind of normal reaction that a speaker is trying to evoke (laughter, seriousness, etc.).

Don't get too caught up with technicalities, minor infringements of the rules as you interpret them, or pet likes and dislikes. You should be viewing the debate from the macro-level as much as from the level of its sophistication, its intricacies and technical complexity. An adjudicator who penalises a speaker for '...gesticulating with their left hand too much', or wearing a blouse that clashes with their handbag, is definitely missing the point somewhere.

5.4 Panel Decisions
Panel Decisions are final

Panels have to place the four teams in the debate round, as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. 1st ranked team has won the round, and the 4th ranked team has finished last in the debate round.

No two teams can be placed in the same rank

The total team scores must reflect the rankings of the team, and no two teams should have the same total team scores.

A Consensus decision is when all members of the panel agree on the rank of a team.

A complete consensus decision is when every single team rank has been decided through a series of consensus decisions amongst the panel members. The panel therefore had complete unanimity over all the team ranking decisions.

A majority decision is when a majority of the panel members agree on the rank of a team.

A complete majority decision is when every single team rank has been decided only by majority decisions.

A partial Consensus-Majority decision is when the panel is in consensus over some rank/s and made majority decisions over the other rank/s.

There can be either a complete consensus decision, a complete majority decision or a partial Consensus-Majority decision.

A panel should discuss all pertinent issues of the debate adequately, and deal with all concerns of panel members.

Chairs have the discretion to end discussions on particular issues or on the whole debate, if they find the discussion to cease being constructive or not progress.

5.5 Panel Members
Members should contribute constructively and the chair of the panel is obliged to promote fair exchange of ideas on the debate, amongst panel members.

Panel members should provide their brief read of the debate, focusing on their main concerns and observations before the panel tries to reach a decision

Panels are encouraged to arrive at a consensus, however the final decision to cast a vote is the privy of individual panel members. Panel members should vote according to their conscience, and not according to expediency.

A panel member can shift positions on an issue or the whole debate during/after the discussion process, because the discussion has convinced them it is appropriate to shift position. Panel members are warned not to shift positions purely because of the experience, reputation and intimidation of any panel members or panel chair.

5.6 Chair of panel
Assumes the role of facilitator, mediator and leader of panel.

Have NOT failed to fulfill their roles if there is no complete consensus decision or if they find themselves in the minority of a majority decision.

Should encourage panel members to offer their opinion or observations of the debate.

Have to respect the views of all members of the panel.

Should organise the thread of discussion, in order to cover all concerns of panel members as much as possible.

Use discretion when ending a discussion on a particular issue or the debate as a whole, and resort to a vote.

5.7 Agreeing on grades for speakers and teams
Panelists should then move on to confer on grades for teams and speakers. You should reach agreement on these things if you can, because it makes the work of the tabulation crew that much less complicated, and they can look forward to living longer and more productive lives. While the rules allow for a degree of flexibility within the grade bandwidths that you have already decided upon, you've managed to achieve consensus thus far, so why not push your luck a little further!

One way to approach this is to try and agree on the standard of the debate as a whole. As the power-matching software starts to spread things out nice and evenly after about round three, you should find this progressively easier to do as the competition goes on, because there should be an increasing level of similarity in the strengths and skills of teams debating in each match. Remember that you still have a little flexibility within a particular grade (or band) in terms of the marks that can be awarded to an individual speaker, so you can still use this range to reflect your own opinions. However, remember also that the marks of the two speakers, when added together, must still equate with the overall grade that has been agree for the team.

5.8 Filling in adjudication sheets
At this point, the panelists can begin to fill in their adjudication sheets, with perhaps one last communal cheek through what has been agreed and what the final decision is, just to make absolutely sure. It may also be a good idea at this stage for the Chair to ask for any points that the panelists would like incorporated into the oral adjudication of the debate.

Decide on finishing positions.

Fill in the Speed Ballot form [Chair].

Check that the Speed Ballot has been filled in correctly [Panelists].

Summon a 'runner'.

Send the Speed Ballot off to the Tab Room.

Decide team grades.

Contribute and summarise points to be included in the feedback.

Call teams back into the room.

Commence the oral adjudication.

Fill in the adjudication sheets, completing all mark and grade boxes and appending comments where relevant or required.

Give all the completed forms to a runner before you leave the room, floor or area.

Once members have settled again, the Chair will then begin the oral adjudication

While the broad categories of “matter” and “manner” serve as touchstones for evaluation, they focus mainly on assessing the qualities of an individual’s performance in the round. Manner is concerned with the style and structure of a speaker’s presentation—delivery, organization, and language use—while matter is concerned with the content and analysis of an individual’s presentation—that a speaker’s arguments are relevant, logical and consistent with his or her team’s or side’s positions.

While useful, these categories do not provide the adjudicator guidance on how to weigh competing lines of argument. Though the adjudication of a Worlds round does not require that the adjudicators declare a winning “side” in the debate, the debaters involved will almost unfailingly be concerned with whether the Government or Opposition prevailed on the question. Moreover, successful adjudication of a round in the Worlds style—that is, the ranking of teams from best to worst—must be concerned with the comparison of each team’s positions relative to the other teams’ positions.

Adjudicators, both when adjudicating the debate and when articulating the panel’s decision to the debaters in the oral adjudication, should pay particular attention to three elements of the argument: the issue over which the debate is contested; the standard by which the arguments on either side of the issue may be assessed; and the appraisal of each team’s arguments relative to that standard.

6.1 Identifying the Issue
All debates may be characterized as a clash of arguments over an issue—some statement that serves as the ideological dividing line between Government and Opposition argumentative ground. Identifying the issue in a debate is the first step toward successfully adjudicating the competing arguments in the round.

Ideally, the issue is made clear early in the debate, either by the motion or by the Government. The majority of Worlds-style debates will have as their central issue the motion as announced. This is particularly true when the motion is exceptionally clear: “This house believes that making Yassar Arafat a partner in peace was a mistake” or “This house would make company directors criminally liable for the wrongs of their companies” are examples of motions that define clear ground for the Government and Opposition and, therefore, serve as the primary issue in the debate.

Other motions are less useful as issue statements. Motions that allow the Government room to interpret the topic and define the focus of the debate are less likely to function as issue statements. A motion such as “This house believes that religious leaders should listen to public opinion” may be supported by a general case in which a Government offers arguments that clergy should be responsive to their followers or it may motivate a Government to run a specific case that is derived from the motion. When presented with the motion above, for example, the Government could choose to run a case that argues the Catholic church should be more proactive in acknowledging and addressing issues of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. When the Government chooses to define a case that is more specific than the motion offered, the central issue in the round typically is the thesis of the case offered by the Government, not the motion itself.

While the issue statement will usually be explicit in the round, there will be cases in which neither side makes apparent the central issue in the round. In this case, the adjudicator must articulate an issue as a starting point for his or her adjudication. When doing so, an adjudicator should phrase an issue statement that is clear and balanced. To be clear, an issue statement should define ground for both the Government and Opposition team in a way that makes obvious their responsibilities. A balanced issue statement will avoid expressing the controversy in a way that might be weighted toward one side or the other.

6.2 Determining the Appropriate Standard for Evaluation
In all decisions, the adjudicator will utilize some criterion or criteria to make his or her assessment of the arguments advanced by the debaters. For example, when adjudicating a debate on the motion “This House believes the International Monetary Fund has done more to harm than help the global condition,” an adjudicator must be able to determine how to evaluate relatively the instances of the IMF “harming” and “helping” the global condition as argued by the debaters. Should impact to local economies be prioritized over facilitating the transition to a global economy? Should concern for effects on the environment and workers’ rights be subjugated to the long-term benefits of capitalism? How should the deterioration of state sovereignty be weighed against the benefits of global trading opportunities?

The issue statement for the debate will usually contain some term or phrase that will serve as the standard for evaluating the competing arguments of each side. This term or phrase typically expresses some evaluation of the subject under consideration. Consider the previously mentioned motion: “This house believes that making Yassar Arafat a partner in peace was a mistake.” In this example, the term that proposes an evaluation of Arafat’s performance is “mistake.” In other words, to evaluate the competing arguments in the round, the adjudicator will employ as his or her standard whether the examples of Arafat’s performance offered by each side constitute a “mistake.” For this term to function as a standard, the adjudicator must know what constitutes a “mistake.” For the IMF motion, the adjudicator must understand what is meant by “the global condition” before he or she may determine which side has best substantiated the impact of the IMF on the global condition. Thus, the nature and definition of the “global condition” becomes the standard for evaluating the competing arguments.

In an ideal situation, the debaters would make clear the standard to be used to weigh competing arguments in the round. The definition of the pertinent term or phrase would be made clear by the Government side and their all arguments would be made relevant to that definition. Similarly, the Opposition would recognize the Government’s definition and orient their arguments toward that standard as well. For example, if “mistake” in the Arafat motion was defined as “anything that has served to impede the progress toward peace,” both the Government and Opposition would align their arguments for Arafat’s influence with an eye toward proving that his presence has affected—either positively or negatively—the progress toward peace.

More typically, however, both sides in a round will have competing standards for evaluating their arguments. With the IMF motion, the Government may defend the escalating Gross Domestic Product of IMF beneficiaries while the Opposition may argue that the austerity measures imposed by the IMF cause significant damage to social programs. Without a clear standard advanced by either side, the adjudicator is left to decide how to evaluate these competing positions. In cases where the respective sides in the debate have failed to “agree” on a particular standard, the adjudicator must determine the standard for evaluating the competing arguments.

When determining a standard, the adjudicator should acknowledge the Government’s responsibility to define the terms of the motion. Assuming that the Government has defined the terms, particularly the term or phrase that will serve as the standard for the competing arguments, some presumption should be given their definition regardless of whether the Opposition chooses to orient their arguments toward that standard. The criteria of clarity and balance applied to the issue statement are also relevant to the definitions offered by the Government: any definition of a standard should increase the clarity of the debate and should not exclude the potential for Opposition argument.

Frequently, however, the Government will fail to define the pertinent term or phrase and the adjudicator will be required to extract a standard for evaluation from the arguments made by both sides in the debate. In the IMF example, the arguments that a beneficiary country’s GDP has improved following IMF intervention and that austerity measures have had a detrimental impact on the social welfare of a country may both be true. The adjudicator must then decide how to compare the competing arguments. Ideally, the debaters will give cues on how to do so in their own argumentation. In this instance, the arguments relevant in the round are focused on the effect of IMF involvement on the beneficiary country. While this may not evaluate the consequences of IMF actions on “the global condition” as most would understand the “global condition” (i.e.: as more broad reaching than the effect of the IMF on a single country) it is what the debaters have opted to focus on. To penalize either side for failing to make the arguments the adjudicator believes would be most appropriate is not sound adjudication.

In such a case, directed by the arguments the debaters have made, the adjudicator may extract a standard of “impact to the beneficiary country.” He or she would then evaluate competing arguments about the benefits or harms of IMF involvement from the perspective of how those outcomes may affect a beneficiary country.

6.3 Appraising the Arguments
Once a standard has been determined, the adjudicator must compare the arguments made in the round to that standard. At this point, the adjudicator should appraise each argument for its relevance to the standard. That relevance may be measured in two ways.

Initially, relevance may be measured from a quantitative perspective. The adjudicator may appraise a side’s arguments for the impact the totality of those arguments has on the standard. More positions relevant to the standard, using a strict quantitative perspective, mean that a particular side should prevailed. If the Government offers five examples of how Arafat’s presence has diminished the prospects for peace to the Opposition’s two examples of how Arafat has improved the prospects for peace, the Government would likely prevail. This perspective, however, has limited utility on its own.

Arguments must also be appraised from a qualitative perspective in which the adjudicator assesses the significance of each argument’s impact to the standard. Some examples or arguments will be more relevant the standard than others. Building off the previous example, the adjudicator may believe that the two arguments offered by the Opposition are more relevant to the standard—perhaps those two examples of how Arafat benefited the peace process were very detailed and specific whereas the Government’s five examples of Arafat’s detractions from the peace process were vague and ill developed. In this case, the Opposition would likely prevail.

Thus, a Worlds round might have a team present seven arguments, but have the opposing team address all of them sufficiently with just one. The most important point here is that the adjudicator account for each major line of argument advanced by the Government and Opposition and assess the merit of each of those arguments relative to the standard.

6.4 Conclusion
This approach to adjudication of the round is most useful for clearly articulating a basis for decision in a verbal adjudication. Verbal adjudications may be structured around these three concepts quite simply.

The Chair of a panel may open an oral adjudication by identifying the issue that divided the Government and Opposition ground in the debate; this may be as simple as saying “The central issue in the round was whether involving Arafat in the peace process was a mistake.” From there, the Chair would articulate the panel’s consensus as to the standard employed for evaluating the competing lines of argument: “The Panel understood that whether Arafat’s involvement would be considered a mistake depended upon whether he had contributed to or detracted from the peace process.” Finally, the Chair would sort through the major lines of argument advanced by each side to offer an appraisal of those each of those arguments relative to this standard.

An oral adjudication structured around these concepts will provide the debaters with the certainty that each of their respective arguments was weighed in the adjudicators’ consideration. That certainty will, in turn, demonstrate that the adjudicators were discharging their duties responsibly.

As with things like note taking, individual adjudicators will each have their own way of giving an oral adjudication.

7.1 Announcing Positions
There is a division of opinion over whether it is best to announce results first and then give the feedback, or whether to give the feedback first and then announce the result. Our advice would be to adopt the former method, because it is questionable how much benefit teams and speakers can get if they are anxiously waiting for the result and you are, unconsciously perhaps, trying to give nothing away.

7.2 Opening Remarks
You may like to preface your remarks with a few comments on the quality and standard of the debate (coming from your discussions on an overall debate grade?). You may also indicate whether there was a unanimous agreement, or whether the panel encountered some resolvable disagreements in the course of its discussion (thereby indicating that the match might well have been very close in some respects).

7.3 The Framework and Content of your Feedback
As with the set-up for a debater's speech, an adjudicator's feedback should have 'matter' and 'manner'. You should also 'structure' your own intended feedback.

Give the finishing order, from team placing first in the debate (and therefore &winning' it), to that placing last.

7.4 The Overview
Then, proceed with the overview of the debate that your panel has assembled during your discussions, but keep it brief. Focus on the definition, the parameters and demands that this set up, the cases and major arguments that followed this, the challenges that these represented and the way that these challenges were met.

You should be able to trace the major issue(s) or themes that ran through the debate through this overview, as well as focusing on the ways in which various teams dealt with these.

7.5 Relative merits of teams, roles, cases, argumentation, etc.
It would then be a good idea to explain exactly why the debate has been awarded to a particular team, and consider the positions of the other teams relative to this. The reasons why teams have finished in the particular order that you have determined should then follow, with the relevant explanations offered as you go. You should conclude this phase by summarising what you have said, but by means of reference to the key arguments and issues that you outlined in your opening commentary. Comments about eye contact, off-key humming and torn jeans are probably not appropriate at this point.

7.6 Concluding
Your adjudication feedback might then move towards a conclusion with any specific comments on the roles, performance and style of individual speakers being offered. However, this should only be necessary in the event that an individual's speech has affected the debate, or a team's role, in a particularly critical way. Please try to keep your remarks in these cases constructively critical, perhaps softening what might be construed as negative criticism by picking out some positive aspects as well and mentioning them.


The main thing is that you enjoy the experience of adjudicating at Worlds and profit from this in the context of your own development as an adjudicator, and perhaps even as a debater. It comes down to one thing: common sense. If you continually apply that particular quality to the process of running, observing, discussing and assessing the debates that you will see, it will not only be you that gains. The debaters, the organisers and the competition that is Worlds Universities Debating will profit too.

The Adjudication Check-list

The phases of a debate adjudication : Observing the debate (which includes chairing and time-keeping if necessary), Discussion of the debate ( a session led by the chair of the panel) and giving the oral adjudication ( announce decision, provide reasons for decision and offer advice to debaters). The final phase is excluded for the final three preliminary rounds and the final series.

Observing the debate
Chairing the debate also includes the responsibility of keeping order in the debate, inviting speakers to speak and cautioning against inappropriate behaviour when warranted.

Discussing the debate
Matter and Manner contribution of each team should be discussed (along with Points of Information- as in the quality of the questions and the responses to them, which possesses both manner and matter elements)

All members of the panel are obliged to provide their read of the debate, and listen to the various views of the other members of the panel.

Chairs of panel should drive the discussion and attempt to move it forward. Use their discretion to end dead discussions and allow all panel members equal access to the discussion.

Oral Adjudication
Presented by the chair of the panel, or a member of the majority, if the chair is dissenting.

Announce the rankings before explaining the verdict (encouraged), if not the explanation would ambiguous and not constructive.

Explain to the debaters, why the panel/majority decided the team ranking in that order, so debaters can understand how the adjudicators distinguished the teams in terms of contribution and delivery.

Provide constructive advice (drawn collectively from the panel) for the debaters.

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