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MA thesis as writing sample


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#1 radioalfredio

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 09:17 PM

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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#2 fuzzylogician

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 02:13 PM

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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The advice in this post is based on my own personal experience. YMMV.
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#3 Sigaba

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 07:28 PM

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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In the effort to create an “instant history” with which we could live and prosper, our early historians intentionally placed our early national heroes and leaders beyond the pale of criticism. . . . And this distorted image of them has not only created a gross historical fallacy, but it has also rendered it utterly impossible to deal with our past in terms of the realities that existed at that time. To put it another way, our romanticizing about the history of the late eighteenth century has prevented our recognizing the fact that the founding fathers made serious mistakes that have greatly affected the course of our national history from that time to the present.


John Hope Franklin, ISBN-0807115479, p. 154.

 

Taking critics seriously, and responding to them thoughtfully, is a sign of respect.

 

William G. Bowen, ISBN-9780691149622,  p. 53.


 


#4 radioalfredio

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 08:01 PM

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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#5 radioalfredio

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 09:57 PM

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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