Jump to content
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

Writing Sample that contradicts a faculty member's article


hhicks0421
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm trying to decide on which writing sample to send to my top choice university. I'm applying for a political science PhD, if that makes a difference. My best paper, and my only one that has quantitative analysis, happens to directly contradict an article written by one of the faculty members at the university where I'm applying.

My paper specifically references this professor's article and explains how my study is different. She used NES data with a small sample size and I used exit poll data with a larger sample size. We're looking at the behavior of voters in the south, and her data didn't include every southern state, while mine did.

While this is definitely my best paper, I'm thinking its not a good idea to use a paper that contradicts a professor who could possibly be on the admissions committee. Should I go with a paper that's more of a literature review, without quantitative analysis, instead?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm trying to decide on which writing sample to send to my top choice university. I'm applying for a political science PhD, if that makes a difference. My best paper, and my only one that has quantitative analysis, happens to directly contradict an article written by one of the faculty members at the university where I'm applying.

My paper specifically references this professor's article and explains how my study is different. She used NES data with a small sample size and I used exit poll data with a larger sample size. We're looking at the behavior of voters in the south, and her data didn't include every southern state, while mine did.

While this is definitely my best paper, I'm thinking its not a good idea to use a paper that contradicts a professor who could possibly be on the admissions committee. Should I go with a paper that's more of a literature review, without quantitative analysis, instead?

Firstly, does the program specify the parameters for what it considers a strong writing sample? I am a comp lit applicant and nearly every department specifically states parameters for a strong sample; many state that critical thought is a critical (hehe) element of a strong writing sample. But then, that's the Humanities. I have no idea, specifically, about poli sci.

Regardless, I think that you should send your best work, even if it does contradict a faculty member's work, because that's what we do: we argue and we disagree about our respective fields; it's how innovation occurs. I know that I regularly disagreed with my profs as an undergrad and that, not only was it always seen as a positive, but my profs would never have been so unprofessional (and petty!) as to take a counter argument personally and to seek retribution.

As long as your argument is professional--adequately respectful of the argument you are contradicting and providing evidence and a logical argument--then I think that it will be precisely what a top program will be looking for. And, if they are just looking for sycophantic students who lap at their magestic fountain of logic, would you really want to attend and/or benefit from attending that institution? I know I wouldn't.

In short, I highly doubt that, if you weren't to be admitted, it would be b/c you contradicted that prof; it would be b/c your argument wasn't strong enough (as well as other factors of your app). But then, maybe there is something about poli sci that I don't know...?

You could always e-mail the department and ask what their parameters are for a strong writing sample.

Edited by Starlajane
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Send your strongest writing sample.

If you think it is necessary, rephrase the differences between your position and that of the POI in question but do so without changing your central argument. To determine ways you might rephrase the differences, consider the utility of finding works in your field where a political scientist widens the focus of a previously published work. Note carefully the tone and word choice. Seek to emulate the more diplomatically phrased passages. B) While you're at it, make sure that you've read the POI's piece backwards and forwards. Look for examples of where she may have qualified or hedged her argument. It may well be that the two of you are not as far apart as you think. (If she's saying "it is a duck" and you're saying "no, it is a goose," you are talking about different birds but you're both talking about waterfowls.)

More generally, make sure you proofread your writing sample very carefully. Your OP has some, ah, clunkiness. Do not put yourself in a position where anyone can use your writing skills as cover for denying your application. ;)

HTH.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What the two above said: Submit your best work. I can understand why you would be worried, but just think if the faculty member you contradicted was on the admission's committee and they read your work. They might be interested to read your take on the concept you're arguing and might in fact be impressed by how you managed to articulate your argument.

I'll share a story with you that is somewhat related, but a little different. One of my professors told me about a great experience she had when she was working on her MA. To keep it short, she had one particular professor she admired, but she never earned an A in any of his classes, so she was determined to change that fact one semester. When she told her professor an idea she had for her final paper, it turned out he had written on the same exact idea and just got it published, and he showed her a copy of the article. By then you can imagine how she felt. She didn't know how she could manage to top his article, but she decided to pursue the same idea anyway. When she finally got her paper back, her professor gave her a page of notes that told her how much he had learned from her paper.

So the lesson I'm trying to teach here is there is always a chance to amaze professors. If you can teach them something new, not only would it make you feel good, but it makes their job feel worthwhile (although in your case, you've never met this faculty member, I assume). But anyway, if you can somehow impress the faculty member with your paper even if it contradicts the his or hers, maybe you'll have an even better chance of getting admitted. You never know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.