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Choosing between two writing samples


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Long-term lurker here currently applying for a Phd. I hope someone can help me out. I have a (classic?) issue of attempting to make 100 page thesis into 20 page-long writing sample. 

Is it alright to submit a 2 page abstract of my *entire thesis* with one full chapter?

OR is it better to submit a sample based on the entire work? I am afraid that a lot would be lost in the process.


Thank you and good luck to everyone who already applied. 



Edited by Wamberg
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  • Wamberg changed the title to Choosing between two writing samples

It's a real pain to condense a thesis but I'd try to make the writing sample as stand-alone as possible, so that straight away, a reader can follow along and not get stuck due to a lack of context. This topic pops up every application season, so searching and finding the general consensus on the best way of using a long-form piece as a writing sample would be a good idea. 

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In the statement, I'd specify areas of interest / list a few subfields to give an idea of your direction as well as to make the case for why you're applying to a particular program. But I'd avoid giving the impression of already having narrowed down a project. Being academically curious and open to the perspectives of your potential mentors will be more welcome. Almost everyone deviates from their initial plan anyways, especially as they become more familiar with the state of their field and learn where attention has already accumulated and where the lacunae lie. 

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