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Primary Research Paper or Synthesis Paper?


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Hoping to get some opinions on this small predicament:

I'm beginning work on my MA thesis this term. By the end of next month (November 2012), I should have a writing-sample-length primary source research paper/chapter of my thesis...

BUT I have a paper from last semester, which I'm very proud of (and which demonstrates both my writing and reasoning abilities - everyone who's read it says so, anyway). The only reason I hesitate to submit it as my WS is that it's primarily a synthesis paper, drawing on only a few primary sources. Further, it doesn't quite reflect the research I intend to pursue for my PhD; it's the same time period and geographic region, and even one or two of the same themes, but it won't reflect my interests as well as a thesis chapter might.

What advice would you give this poor student? Should I go with the slightly off-topic paper that I know for certain reflects my quality, submit my thesis chapter (however it turns out), or - probably the best option - write the thesis chapter and decide which one to submit based on how well it turns out?

Any and all feedback and advice is much appreciated! :)

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Can you not submit both? Applications that I have seen (and that have been successful) generally include more than one writing sample, but requirements might vary across schools. Otherwise, I would choose the one that you think is the best demonstration of your research ability.

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No, unfortunately, most of the programs I'm applying to are really strict about the number/length of your writing sample. I they're afraid they'll be bombarded with 200-page long theses, and don't have time to read all that...Thanks for the feedback - that's the direction I'm leaning. :)

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