Its debatable…Speak Up!

December 4, 2007

Importance of research on forensics – A DOF Perspective

Filed under: Academics,Communication Studies,Forensics - General,Research — bk2nocal @ 1:02 pm

A few posts ago, I posted the link to an article discussing the importance of research to the graduate student assistants who work with forensics teams.  In that same issue of the National Forensic Journal, an article discussed the importance of research from a Director of Forensics perspective.  Robert C. Aden, former Director at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire included the following reasons that research in speech and debate is valuable for reasons other than just achieving tenure:

  • “…forensics research assists coaches by offering perspectives for approaching the various events.”   I think this is of particular importance to someone like me.  I have competed at least a few times in every type of event, but I have obviously invested much more time in debate than any of the individual events.  This puts me at a disadvantage when coaching IE competitors in the same way that having a primarily IE background puts someone at a disadvantage when coaching debate, even if they have a limited debate background.  I think that there are some great panels at conferences and coach’s workshops on much of this, but I would love to have access to that same material in print or online via video.  Although many do not think of this as “research” – doing a comprehensive examination of judge’s preferences for certain arguments or speech structures would produce really valuable information.  We make a lot of assumptions about what judges want from our competitors, but in the end, they are just that – assumptions.  And we all know what assumptions make us.
  • “…forensics research provides a valuable resource for students.”   Although this particular point is not as important in the age of internet and listservs, I do think that a more formal outlet for some of the discussions that take place in online forums would be helpful.  For example, there are some really valuable conversations (some might say arguments) that take place about debate theory on both edebate and netbenefits, but many of those discussions seem to fade away without offering anyone but the most avid and dedicated reader any conclusive advice on argumetnative choices.  Someone who was able to take those discussions and structure them into a useful article would be providing an invaluable service to the community.  Even better, someone who could take those discussions and pull out key areas for exploration via a more structured research effort could have a lasting effect on our community. 
  • “…forensics research enhances student and coach understanding of the connection between theory and practice.”  As the author points out, this was particularly important for debate at that time, although some individual events did include this type of discussion.  There is much grumbling about forensics having “lost its way” from some administrations across the country.  Some programs are having to do “hard sells” to continue funding or bring back funding that has been lost in the past.  Being able to provide quality, up-to-date research tied to other areas of the Communication field can not hurt in these discussions.  Through a demonstration of current forensics and the way that current theory is being applied in the activity, one may have an easier time justifying Communication departments handing over some of those difficult-to-come-by dollars. 

These are pretty general ideas, but they are good reminders of WHY we should continue our efforts at research in the different areas of forensics. 

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