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I'm gearing up to apply to 5-8 schools this year after my first year of rejection (I would reject me too, it was rushed), and I'm really trying to get a feel for what the best practice is for statements of purpose and writing samples particularly when it comes to a planned dissertation topic. Is it better to mention that you have a topic you very much want to research and write a dissertation on or better to not mention it? If you do mention it, would it look favorable to write a short (15-20 page) academic paper on the subject you plan to use as a building point for your dissertation? Or is it more favorable to simply express passion for research in more general areas of study that such a topic could exist in? Does proposing a topic necessarily make applicants seem inflexible or easier to rule out from consideration in terms of "I'm not interested in advising specifically that topic"? Thanks, A