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Application question - does my writing sample have to be related to my SOP?


childofforest
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Hi all, I am applying for the 2012 September admission, and I am having trouble preparing my writing sample. I'm applying for comparative politics department and the subjects I want to study in the Phd program is not really offered in the undergrad school I am going to right now. So although I have a ok-quality term paper, I don't have anything that is related to what I want to study that I mention in my SOP. (actually I have one but it is more of an undergrad essay, without much data).

So the question is, do you thing it would be okay for me to submit something that is in the comparative politics subfield but not really related to my statement of purpose?

It is rather difficult for me to prepare something solid within several months, and it is more difficult considering that there is actually no professors or academic courses that offer anything related to what I want to study (within the comparative politics subfield in my current undergrad school).

Comments would really help :)

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The general philosophy on writing samples is that you should submit your best piece of writing. It's ideal to have a writing sample that also speaks to your research interests, of course, but I think that it can be a bit more important that it's your best writing.

That said, you don't want to submit something that's out in left field, content-wise.

Since your sample is in your subfield, I think it's fine that it doesn't exactly speak to your proposed research interests. Does it at least demonstrate your methodology or style in some way?

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The general philosophy on writing samples is that you should submit your best piece of writing. It's ideal to have a writing sample that also speaks to your research interests, of course, but I think that it can be a bit more important that it's your best writing.

That said, you don't want to submit something that's out in left field, content-wise.

Since your sample is in your subfield, I think it's fine that it doesn't exactly speak to your proposed research interests. Does it at least demonstrate your methodology or style in some way?

not really, because I haven't learned much about quantitative analysis yet, and the only method I could use last semester was only qualitative. But i can verify that I have worked on my qualitative analysis skills - I have taken several courses during the summer.

It is so disappointing to hear that my sample should speak my research interests, because the school I am attending now does not really offer courses regarding topics I am interested in. The country I am living in right now has no experts on the topics that I want to pursue in my phd program.

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It is so disappointing to hear that my sample should speak my research interests, because the school I am attending now does not really offer courses regarding topics I am interested in. The country I am living in right now has no experts on the topics that I want to pursue in my phd program.

Well, again, this is the ideal. After all, you want to show your committees what kind of work you're capable of in your proposed field and method of study. But if something else in your subfield that lies outside your stated interests and methods is what best shows your writing skills—or in this case, is all you have—then use that.

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not really, because I haven't learned much about quantitative analysis yet, and the only method I could use last semester was only qualitative. But i can verify that I have worked on my qualitative analysis skills - I have taken several courses during the summer.

It is so disappointing to hear that my sample should speak my research interests, because the school I am attending now does not really offer courses regarding topics I am interested in. The country I am living in right now has no experts on the topics that I want to pursue in my phd program.

Your last point can be part of your SOP somehow, for instance why you are applying to given programs.

There are a few posts on this in the Political Science sub-forum and it seems like the general consensus is to do what runonsentence states. You simply want to send in your best work, whether it be quantitative or qualitative. Also, it can be argued that you can simply send in a piece of work in a different subfield as long as it relates to political science.

I would suggest you use something you have already written and revise it.

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Your last point can be part of your SOP somehow, for instance why you are applying to given programs.

There are a few posts on this in the Political Science sub-forum and it seems like the general consensus is to do what runonsentence states. You simply want to send in your best work, whether it be quantitative or qualitative. Also, it can be argued that you can simply send in a piece of work in a different subfield as long as it relates to political science.

I would suggest you use something you have already written and revise it.

Thanks for your advice :)

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