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MA thesis as writing sample

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Posted

So, I guess it goes without saying that I'm going to use my MA thesis as my writing sample for PhD apps, since I'm staying in the same field.

My question for y'all is whether or not I should re-format it. My thesis is currently formatted, well, like a thesis. It has huge margins, and a long tables of contents, and all of those other picky things that my graduate school made me do. I'm thinking that it might be easier for an adcom to read if I edited it to follow the style guidelines of a linguistics article. It would certainly cut down on the page length of my thesis.

What do you think I should do?

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Posted

It wouldn't be the first thing I would spend my time on, but if you have time after you're done with all the other parts of the application--SOP, content edits to the writing sample, exams and whatnot--then if it's not a lot of work, using a more familiar format for your work could be visually appealing. It won't influence what people think about the content of the work and therefore can only have a small effect on the overall opinion of you, so don't waste too much time on this if you choose to do it at all.

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Posted

If your master's committee thinks that your thesis is in good shape, the only changes I'd recommend are stripping away some of the required paraphernalia, reducing the margins, (maybe) changing the font size, and changing the header/footer (to make sure your name is on every page).

I recommend not spending more than a hour or two on this conversion process because the exercise offers a great opportunity for a first class freak out.

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Posted

Thanks, fuzzylogician and Sigaba. That's kind of how I feel about it too, but I wanted to get some feedback from others.

At the very least, I might just cut out the clutter at the beginning of the formatted thesis. My MA adviser told me that I should consider reformatting my thesis in the style of a linguistics article for eventual journal submission, but I think that it's too stressful, and not important enough to worry about now.

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Posted

Update: Well, it looks like I'm going to have to reformat my thesis after all. One of the schools that I'm applying to requests that my writing sample is between 15 - 20 pages, so I'm going to have to pair it down (which I guess will be easier than working on one of my older papers). Ah... the application process!

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