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Editing writing sample advice

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I did some searching through old posts but didn't find any specific advice on this subject. Are there any old posts someone could direct me to that I've missed? If not...perhaps you could share your opinion.

As far as my applications go, here's my plan with the samples:

I've got two papers that I'm working with. One, the third chapter from my thesis, is 14 pages long. The other, a seminar paper I'm particularly proud of, began as just eight pages.

My thought is, first of all to do a bit of lengthening: I want to beef the thesis chapter to 18, including an abstract (to contextualize the chapter), rewrite the first page, and add some choice paragraphs here and there. As for the seminar paper, I'm aiming for something near 15 pages, either by adding an entirely new element to the argument, or, (more likely) expanding on summarized areas already there (and, by nature of it being an eight-pager, there are plenty of condensed areas in need of expansion). Lastly, of course, comes an uber-copy edit looking for all the little things.

Why the two samples? The decision comes out of a lack of confidence in my thesis, despite my advisor's assurances that I have nothing to worry about, and the experience of a grad student-friend, who submitted six applications sporting his best sample (he thought) and one application with his second-best, and was accepted only to the school he'd sent his second sample to.

As a related question...my SOP is VERY bound up (read: three-four whole paragraphs on the subject) with my thesis research. While I'm relatively happy with my SOP, I'm worried to a certain extent that submitting anything but my thesis chapter will raise eyebrows among adcomms. Agree/disagree?

Anyone else have any thoughts on this stuff? What was/is your experience like editing papers you hadn't dealt with in a while? Any advice?

Edited by MichaelK
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I'm not sure if I have any advice, per se, but I am not submitting a chapter from my thesis. The reason is because my interests have shifted a bit since then. Instead, I plan to discuss in my SOP how my thesis pushed me into the direction of what I am interested in now, and then my writing sample is going to be a conference paper that I presented last year. The conference paper is only 7 1/2 pages long, so I am currently working on adding references to theory, the current conversation about the text, and specific quotes from the text, the kinds of things you cut out for a conference paper.

So, I guess my two cents about whether or not to submit your thesis chapters relates to whether or not it demonstrates the area you are proposing you want to focus on. Pick which one best fits that and put your work into that.

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