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Anyone have any advice about submitting excerpts of a longer work? Formatting, what sections to pick? Do you need to include your introduction or should you just include as much research and meaty stuff as possible?

I have a few schools which say it's okay to send in an excerpt, and I'm applying to places in the both the US and the UK. Right now I'm cutting a 2,000 word chunk out of a 6,000 word essay to submit.

Thank you!! =]

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  • 4 weeks later...


For me, my writing sample was a full, polished chapter of my still-in-the-works thesis. It had the pertinent front matter (title page, abstract, date info (it's an archaeology one, not sure what your intended field is!) full chapter, works cited). My thesis adviser okay-ed it before it went out.


I'm not sure how long a 2,000 word chunk for you would be formatted, but most of my programs requested a minimum of 15 pages of writing (my chapter was straightforward and 16! Whew!). I would recommend checking each program individually and making sure that you see all of their requirements. Sometimes, different departments would like different things for your samples. For instance, one of the schools I applied to required the inclusion of a newly-assigned Student ID at the Top Right-Hand corner of every first page of every document. Talk about busywork!

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@ wetheplants - I'm in a similar situation -my social science PhD program applications have a range of writing sample lengths! One of the programs I'm applying to wants a short research paper as a writing sample (less than 15 pages). I want to use my best work and my thesis is way over the limit. I was thinking of just adding a note at the beginning of my sample saying that I am submitting some excerpts of sections from a much larger research paper. I'm going back and forth between which sections to include as well. I can see including the abstract, shortening the intro, including my research questions and methodology (should I take out the literature review? or do they like to see that?) and then including my data / data analysis. 


@birchleaf - a completed chapter also sounds like a good idea. Which chapter did you choose to submit??

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