What is a ‘short writing sample’?

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In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a philosopher on the job market asks:

What is a ‘short writing sample?’

I’ve seen a couple of jobs ads posted where what is requested is a ‘short writing sample’. What does that mean? Does it mean under 20 pages? Under 10? Any guesses from those with experience?

I have a conference paper that I’ve presented once and that I am revising into something larger, and I’m wondering if that would be appropriate (I think it might be of interest for this particular job too). But then I always assumed, rightly I think, that conference papers should not be used as writing samples.

I have to confess that when I was on the market, I wondered about this too. I also found it rather frustrating, as I’ve always thought that most of my best work is pretty long. So, sometimes I wondered whether I should just submit an abridged version of an article. But that also seemed to me to be risky, so I never quite knew what to do here.

Another reader submitted the following reply to the OP:

It probably varies. I’d just ask the person listed in the ad. If you have only one paper that qualifies as even close to short, send it.

Fair enough, but given how common these types of ads can be, it might be helpful to get a general picture from search committees about what they have in mind when they ask for a ‘short’ sample. Any search committee members willing to chime in?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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