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Time spent on Sample paper


UndergradDad
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On 12/31/2018 at 4:42 PM, Moose#@1%$ said:

Are you coming from a B.A or M.A program?

sorry! I'm hardly ever on here. I applied from a BA program. Now, I'm a second year PHD student. Term paper season doesn't really kill me, but it does make me feel like a horrible scholar since it requires one to write on material that I'm woefully unfamiliar with by comparison to how much care and attention I took to ensuring my sample was thoroughly thought through.

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11 hours ago, markovka said:

Care to elaborate? What hashtags do they use out there?

I just followed grad students and profs from all kinds of programs, and from the programs I wanted to attend! If you do make one, I'm happy to follow you/direct you to people who might be helpful to talk to or follow! PM me if you'd like.

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Comparing with other people on this thread, the time I spent on my sample is unusually short. Last year, before October, I didn't know anything about the field. By the end of the month, I wrote a paper in this field for class. For November, I did some revisions and discussed my arguments with some professors but they didn't read the paper (except for the one whose class I wrote the paper for), and that's it. Haven't opened that document since then. I have three acceptances so far, all from great PhD programs highly respected in their fields. It's making me feel timid and confused because I know I'm far from brilliant. Just lucky, I guess. What I do learn from this is that it's important to be able to (as early as possible) locate a relevant, researchable, and expandable issue in the field and develop an innovative yet rigorous line of arguments. (I just realized this goes for any paper lol...sorry for not being able to help.)

PS. It could also be that continental phil programs perhaps do not value academic literacy (how many secondary sources that were published recently, etc.) as much as their analytic counterparts. That'd be a factor, I assume.

PPS. @UndergradDad I read some of your other posts and it seems that your son is at a LAC. So am I. Feel free to PM me and I'm happy to share with you my experience if that'll help.

Edited by charliekkk
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53 minutes ago, charliekkk said:

Comparing with other people on this thread, the time I spent on my sample is unusually short. Last year, before October, I didn't know anything about the field. By the end of the month, I wrote a paper in this field for class. For November, I did some revisions and discussed my arguments with some professors but they didn't read the paper (except for the one whose class I wrote the paper for), and that's it. Haven't opened that document since then. I have three acceptances so far, all from great PhD programs highly respected in their fields. It's making me feel timid and confused because I know I'm far from brilliant. Just lucky, I guess. What I do learn from this is that it's important to be able to (as early as possible) locate a relevant and researchable issue in the field and develop an innovative yet rigorous line of arguments. (I just realized this goes for any paper lol...sorry for not being able to help.)

PS. It could also be that continental phil programs perhaps do not value academic literacy (how many secondary sources that were published recently, etc.) as much as their analytic counterparts. That'd be a factor, I assume.

PPS. @UndergradDad I read some of your other posts and it seems that your son is at a LAC. So am I. Feel free to PM me and I'm happy to share with you my experience if that'll help.

Definitely a non-typical story, I think - congrats on your successes! :D

EDIT: Though to be fair, I didn't decide to apply to philosophy programmes until practically after my undergrad was finished either; though I've had a bit more time since then.

Edited by Kantattheairport
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  • 2 weeks later...

I spent a reallllllly long time working on mine, but it was the culmination of a research fellowship I did this past summer, and I'm sending it out to journals soon.  The drafts are probably uncountable at this point.  

I also got to experience the amazing feeling of finishing my last application, taking a few days to cool down, and then going back to the paper and noticing a TON of problems (I mean, mostly typos and some sloppy wording).  Here's hoping application committees think it's compelling regardless.  

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7 hours ago, BuffaloBuffalo said:

I spent a reallllllly long time working on mine, but it was the culmination of a research fellowship I did this past summer, and I'm sending it out to journals soon.  The drafts are probably uncountable at this point.  

I also got to experience the amazing feeling of finishing my last application, taking a few days to cool down, and then going back to the paper and noticing a TON of problems (I mean, mostly typos and some sloppy wording).  Here's hoping application committees think it's compelling regardless.  

I wouldn't worry too much about the typos. I noticed some typos in my sample after submitting it but thankfully the admission committee in Toronto looked past it.

 

In terms of time spent, it is hard to say, I probably ended up with around forty-plus drafts, and i imagine at least ten to twenty hours per draft. But I started researching and drafting this paper last spring so I thankfully had the time to spend on it.

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Last season I spent half a year on it, this time I just submitted one of my seminar papers near unchanged. My results profile has changed dramatically, though that might be because my current writing sample is extremely specific to the mathematics of causation. I am willing to dm either of my samples if anyone is interested.

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This is a bit late, I suppose, but I'd imagine that I spent at least 500 hours on my sample (plus, like, 40 hours figuring out how to format it in LaTeX). My "writing sample drafts" folder has 15 drafts (with each one having less substantive changes). I also solicited comments from as many faculty members as were willing. I also submitted the "final" version to my grammarian friends for a round of copy-editing. 

TL;DR: I focused all of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies on this one thing for about 7 months. 

Edited by brookspn
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My writing sample was just a term paper I wrote for a 4th year Honours course back home in Sydney. After I got the feedback from the professor I originally submitted it to, I submitted it basically unchanged. I was fortunate enough to get a few pretty good offers to choose between, and now I'm a first year at Pittsburgh. 

It's great that some of the people that responded spent so much time on their samples and it's certainly something worth doing if you can. But you also shouldn't think that spending hundreds of hours with your sample is a prerequisite for getting good offers. I suppose all I'm offering is some anecdotal evidence for this, but I'd hate to think someone might read this thread and think that they won't get into grad school unless they can dedicate the better part of a couple of months to working on their sample.

That's not to say, of course, that I think that was the intention of anyone posting above. Also, there are naturally some areas of philosophy where expectations of scholarship might higher for grad admissions (for instance, I imagine historical work might require a bit more thorough approach than my sample exhibited, etc.) But in any case, I thought it was worth pointing out that it's possible to do well with a variety of approaches.

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4 hours ago, tmck3053 said:

My writing sample was just a term paper I wrote for a 4th year Honours course back home in Sydney. After I got the feedback from the professor I originally submitted it to, I submitted it basically unchanged. I was fortunate enough to get a few pretty good offers to choose between, and now I'm a first year at Pittsburgh. 

It's great that some of the people that responded spent so much time on their samples and it's certainly something worth doing if you can. But you also shouldn't think that spending hundreds of hours with your sample is a prerequisite for getting good offers. I suppose all I'm offering is some anecdotal evidence for this, but I'd hate to think someone might read this thread and think that they won't get into grad school unless they can dedicate the better part of a couple of months to working on their sample.

That's not to say, of course, that I think that was the intention of anyone posting above. Also, there are naturally some areas of philosophy where expectations of scholarship might higher for grad admissions (for instance, I imagine historical work might require a bit more thorough approach than my sample exhibited, etc.) But in any case, I thought it was worth pointing out that it's possible to do well with a variety of approaches.

True, not strictly a prerequisite, but the writing sample is so important that spending copious amounts of time on it may as well be. An excellent sample can overcome a (relatively) poor GPA or GRE, or sometimes, even undergraduate pedigree. The single advice repeated over and over again by professional philosophers is to make one's sample as professional and rigorous and well-argued as possible. Don't take my word for it, or tmck3053's, just do a little bit of asking around and internet 'research' and you'll find this to be true. It's lucky for tmck3053 that they got into a good program without having put in so many hours into their sample, but it's completely irrelevant and misleading to try and suggest that it's an effective option.

 

*Put as much work into your sample as you possibly can. This piece of advice should not be up for debate.*

Edited by Prose
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36 minutes ago, Prose said:

*Put as much work into your sample as you possibly can. This piece of advice should not be up for debate.*

I'll second this. I worked on my writing to the exclusion of anything else, e.g., retaking the GRE, writing program-specific personal statements, involving myself in resume building activities, etc., and I've had rather a successful application season. I can't say for sure, but I'd imagine that this is owed largely to the quality of my sample paper. 

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56 minutes ago, Prose said:

True, not strictly a prerequisite, but the writing sample is so important that spending copious amounts of time on it may as well be. An excellent sample can overcome a (relatively) poor GPA or GRE, or sometimes, even undergraduate pedigree. The single advice repeated over and over again by professional philosophers is to make one's sample as professional and rigorous and well-argued as possible. Don't take my word for it, or tmck3053's, just do a little bit of asking around and internet 'research' and you'll find this to be true. It's lucky for tmck3053 that they got into a good program without having put in so many hours into their sample, but it's completely irrelevant and misleading to try and suggest that it's an effective option.

 

*Put as much work into your sample as you possibly can. This piece of advice should not be up for debate.*

Hey sure, of course. I thought it was clear that I wasn't trying to encourage anyone to spend less time on their sample, and that I think it's obvious that each individual should spend as much time on their sample as they are able to manage. I suppose I was unclear on these points. My concern was this: peoples' circumstances are different and their paths to grad school are many and varied and it's just the case that some people, depending on timing, circumstance, income, living situations, etc. (especially if they are non-US applicants and perhaps not on the same academic calendar) might not be able to spend anywhere near the amount of time on their sample that some people in this thread were able to. My point was only to say that those people ought not to feel discouraged, as I can imagine some might.

For context: I know a couple of people back home that almost shied away from applying for grad school in the US (and some that did) because of a perception that one needed to be able to dedicate hundreds of hours to one's sample in order to be even remotely competitive. Trusting that no one would, on my advice, put less work into their sample than they were able to, I simply thought it was helpful to point out to anyone having similar doubts that there are people in good programs that, for one reason or another, did not dedicate this amount of time to their sample.

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1 hour ago, tmck3053 said:

Hey sure, of course. I thought it was clear that I wasn't trying to encourage anyone to spend less time on their sample, and that I think it's obvious that each individual should spend as much time on their sample as they are able to manage. I suppose I was unclear on these points. My concern was this: peoples' circumstances are different and their paths to grad school are many and varied and it's just the case that some people, depending on timing, circumstance, income, living situations, etc. (especially if they are non-US applicants and perhaps not on the same academic calendar) might not be able to spend anywhere near the amount of time on their sample that some people in this thread were able to. My point was only to say that those people ought not to feel discouraged, as I can imagine some might.

For context: I know a couple of people back home that almost shied away from applying for grad school in the US (and some that did) because of a perception that one needed to be able to dedicate hundreds of hours to one's sample in order to be even remotely competitive. Trusting that no one would, on my advice, put less work into their sample than they were able to, I simply thought it was helpful to point out to anyone having similar doubts that there are people in good programs that, for one reason or another, did not dedicate this amount of time to their sample.

It’s possible that you might be just an excellent writer and you don’t need to spend hours editing it. It might be the paper you wrote was just really well written the first time around. An undergrad prof once told me that “some people just are really good writers and their first (second ) draft is better than most people’s 10th. But most of us aren’t like that, so, spend time editing, a lot of time.” With that said, it’s best to spend time, because chances are that we are not in latter. Lol 

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On 12/10/2018 at 6:48 PM, CrustyCrustacean said:

I spent about a semester doing the initial writeup, then pretty much built it up from scratch again over two months. 

@lukasodb and others, I'd be happy to look at your sample (my ethics is more meta-ethics but maybe it's still of some use if your sample's in the area)

Pretty much what I did too. I made sure to delve deeper into the secondary material, which in turn effected my argument. After taking notes and reading (a lot) for about a month, I recast the whole orientation of the paper, and completely rewrote the last half -- which took, I'd say, 2 or 3 weeks of writing 2-4 hrs. a day. (The paper's about Sartre and the problem of concrete experiences with non-being.)

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In fall 2017, I followed a seminar on Kant's philosophy of mathematics. The course greatly influenced me in that I started to grasp Kant's theoretical philosophy from a new perspective. Then I decided to turn my term paper for that course into a writing sample. So  I spent approximately one and half year on it and presented it in an international conference. It is a bit weird to say but I've turning my term paper into a graduate thesis rather than extracting a sample paper from a thesis.

Edited by ararslan
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I also presented my sample paper at an international conference. Though a difference is that I wrote my paper while in my current state outside academia. I repetitiously read the particular paper to which I ended up responding, extracted its arguments, and then formulated my counterarguments, all while walking 3 miles from a job I held over the summer (I have a different job now) in what was mostly triple digit heat. I did this for three months. The paper is currently under review (past the initial editor) at a major journal. 

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