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Writing Sample Q (Early Modern History) - Cut or Condense?


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Hi all! I'm currently applying to PhD programs in early modern history/history of science, and have received conflicting advice about the writing sample. My undergrad thesis advisor (whom I trust immensely and who got her PhD from my top choice school) suggested I condense my 90-something-page thesis basically into an article-sized piece for the sample. On a phone call with a potential PhD advisor (at a different school), however, she recommended I use a chapter of my thesis and simply write a "foreword" explaining the chapter's place in the rest of the project.

I mentioned my undergrad advisor's advice and she seemed confused by it, saying that that seemed like both a lot of work and like a lot of my more intricate source work would be lost. This definitely resonates with me (bringing something from 90 to 10-25 pages without losing anything important felt damn near impossible) and I will of course go with the latter route for that school, but is my undergrad advisor's advice a total wash? I'm thinking of just asking potential advisors what the department would prefer when I speak to them, but that also feels like it might be perceived as fishing for insider secrets - the first prof offered this particular nugget of her own volition.

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Edited by norellehannah
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