Structure of a Case

The purpose of a case is always the same: to establish your points of offense for the round. In a case, you aren’t focused on responding to your opponent (yet) – this will happen in rebuttals. Instead, the purpose is to make your core points that you’ll carry through the entire round, the points that you will use to establish your offense.

Many debaters wonder whether they should be using “cards” (quotes from experts) or “analytics” (their own analysis). The answer is that the case should be a combination of both. Cards are useful for establishing credibility and providing strong warrants for your points, while analytics can contextualize and explain the cards, connecting them to the topic.

A typical case will have multiple “contentions” which are separate arguments for your side. Within each contention you might have a brief analytic explaining the thesis of your contention, a card, an analytic summarizing the card, and then a new card, new analytic, and so on.

Analysis versus Cards:

Public Forum cases tend to have a lot of analysis. This is because of Public Forum’s focus on persuasion for a lay audience. While there are cards presented, the cards are often shorter (or “paraphrased” in the debater’s own words), with extensive use of analytics.

Timing Breakdown:

A constructive in PF is four minutes long. In this speech, you’ll need to establish your offense. Given that PF lacks framework or burdens, you can spend all of your time on contentions. We’d advise you to read 1-2 contentions (but not more) in this speech, with your time roughly split between the two contentions if you choose to use two.

Outline of Structure:

• Contention 1

• Contention 2