Writing sample: published or unpublished?

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In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, E asks:

Suppose you’re choosing between two papers to use as a writing sample. One is the best paper you’ve written to date. It was published a few years ago. The other is a new manuscript. You have evidence that it’s a good paper. Which should you choose? Does it matter?

Excellent questions! Offhand, I would think that one should simply use one’s best paper, as the presumptive point of a writing sample is to display you doing philosophy at your best. Then again, I can’t help but wonder whether some search committee members might prefer unpublished work for a couple of reasons. First, if the work is really excellent, then it may convey that your best work is ahead of you, rather than in the past. Second, it might excite the committee about where your research is heading and demonstrate that you have excellent work that is likely to be published once you are hired.

Long story short, I’m not sure. What do you all think? It would be great to hear from search committee members what they prefer and well, as well as from job candidates who used already published work (how well did that approach work?).

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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