How to Submit:
To submit your case, simply send it as an attached Word Document (.doc or .docx format) to Rachel (dot) Stevens (at) ncpa (dot) org. We use a variety of features in Microsoft Word to review your document and suggest changes.
Once your critique is submitted, just wait! We’ll have it back to you as quickly as possible.
When will my critique be complete?:
We strive to complete all case critiques within 3 business days after their submission. (Please note that “business days” means Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm (CT), excluding holidays. )
Want to know when your case critique will be ready based on when you submitted it? Here is a chart.
Because of a number of factors, we cannot absolutely guarantee a 3-day turnaround. This is particularly true in the week before very major tournaments, the several days following holidays, or any other time when backlogs are very likely to develop.
If you need your critique before a certain deadline, you should ideally submit it a week or more in advance. If that is impossible, you may flag your request as “urgent” and specify your deadline, and we’ll do what we can to meet your needs. Please do not label requests “urgent” unless they truly are.
Who is eligible for a free case critique?
Anyone! Debate Central makes this service to all LD, CX, and PF debaters in any local or national league. Wherever you debate, whatever style you use, we want to ensure that your hard work receives high-quality feedback that keeps you winning debates!
Who does the case critiques?
Debate Central uses a team of PF, LD, and CX experts on a rotating basis, but most of our critiques are done by Debate Central’s permanent staff, including NCPA Director of Youth Programs and Debate Central administrator Rachel Stevens.
Rachel has over a decade of experience in high school and college debate, and has competed in and/or coached every event. Her past students have achieved a variety of competitive successes, including State champions and finalists, top-10 appearances at NSDA Nationals, TOC bids, and more.
How many cases can I send?
As many as you want! Many students use our service several times a month. We’re happy to read several of your drafts and give comments as you edit.
Please note, however, that you are likely to experience a longer-than-average wait time for return if you submit more than 2 cases at the same time.
Do I need to do anything in return?
Technically, no, but we’d really appreciate a ‘like’ or a ‘follow!’ Debate Central offers this service to anyone who wants or needs it with absolutely no catch. You will receive your critique no matter what you do.
Debate Central is a non-profit service, so we depend entirely on donor support. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, you can make a donation here.
And don’t forget to tell your friends about us!
Are they confidential?
Yes. We guarantee it. Debate Central experts understand how hard you work to produce original research, and we would never share your work with anyone else. We do not publish or share even basic details about your cases.
Will you cut cards for me?
Occasionally, we may include a piece of evidence as an example or place an impact in one of your contentions if we have one. If you ask us for cards and we have them on hand, we usually have no problem sharing.
That said, the purpose of case critiques is to build your confidence and help you with search terms and research skills so that you can solve these problems yourself now and in the future. We’re happy to suggest sources and search terms to help you find what you’re looking for and help you over research hurdles if you aren’t finding it!
A big part of debate is learning research, so we want to make sure you’re getting all those benefits. We wouldn’t be helping if we always just gave you the answer!
Will you review the entire file?
Generally, no. We’ll review your shells and whatever you read in the first constructive. We can also take a look at blocks, but we can’t do a comprehensive edit of an entire file for time reasons.
Experts usually suggest research priorities within your case critique, however, and we’re happy to glance at your index to see if you’re missing anything.
Will you review other things, such as school papers?
In general, no. This service is intended to help high school competitive debaters with argument theory and criticism. Editing term papers falls outside of our intended mission and likely would not be appreciated by your teachers! Please do not send anything that you will submit for a formal grade, as helping you may go against school or teacher policy.
We will help refine cases for your school debate class, if you would like.
Can I request a rush order?
We’ll try to accommodate you whenever possible, but the best thing you can do to ensure that you get your case critique by competition day is send it a week beforehand. We get a high volume of these daily and not only do we want to give them the time they deserve; we also want to be sure to answer them in the order they were received.
If you’d like us to try to finish yours by a given time, we can’t guarantee it, but we can suggest the following: If you’d like it faster, specify that you’d like an urgent, basic review. This means our experts will give your case a once-over and point out any large issues but won’t take the time to do a full critique.
Think of it this way – it’s a great reason to get your first draft done early!
Can I ask follow-up questions?
Of course! If anything we say in a critique is unclear to you, you’re confused about how to execute something, or you don’t understand the strategy behind our suggestions, please feel free to reply to the critique email and ask. We are here to help, and are always happy to clarify. In fact, if you want, you can even send us questions without submitting a case.
I just got my critique! I don’t see any comments! What happened?
Make sure that you’re viewing the document in its draft view with comments visible. If you still don’t see the comments in the margins, please let us know! We’re happy to send you a PDF file.
I sent my critique and it’s been a week. I don’t have it yet. What happened?
Several things are possible. Most generally, it’s possible that we just didn’t get it. Please send it again to make sure we have it.
It’s also possible that you caught us during a holiday. Debate Central operates out of the NCPA office, which is closed for all major holidays. If you’ve sent something during a holiday week and haven’t heard back, be patient. We’ll get back to you soon! We’re seldom out for more than a day or so.
May I use Debate Central resources in my case?
We encourage you to use our topic analyses to build your case — that’s the reason why we write them! They are not meant, however, as stand-alone cases to use in a debate without doing any additional work because they’re simply not formatted that way and do not represent your own original work. Use them as a starting point, use the evidence if you like it, look up the articles for further reading, and even print it to use as notes in debate class!
If you’re going to quote our analysis (not the evidence portion but the explanations that follow) word-for-word, though, please cite us just as you would any other author. We want to get you started, but as we said above, we’re no help in the long run if we’re doing your job for you!
If you’d like to use them, the citation is:
Rachel Stevens, et. al., [DATE] [“[Title of Analysis],” Director of Youth Programs for the NCPA, Debate Central Free Resources, debate-central.ncpa.org]