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Writing Sample Question

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I am applying to sociology doctoral programs now for the fall of 2010 and I can't decide what kind of writing sample to send. I am currently in a public health masters program and i have had the opportunity to take a doctoral seminar in gender theory/the sociology of gender (one of my serious interests for sociology). i wrote a few papers for the class and i am trying to figure out which of these to send as a writing sample.

one paper is a short one--5 pages double spaced--that i wrote comparing the analytical frameworks used by two different authors discussing the same subject. the paper was for the gender seminar referenced above. the paper is one of the best i've ever written but the problem is that it's very obvious that it's was an assigned topic, not a research paper or thesis. it references two books and one theoretical text that i cannot presume the professors on the admissions committee will have read.

the second paper is a much longer one (maybe 18 pages?) and it is an original, research paper that is in an even more specific area of sociology that i am interested in. it was for the same doctoral seminar and i got the same grade on the paper so i know my profs liked it but it is not as well written as the other, shorter paper. however, i am revising this paper over the next few months and will hopefully be submitting it for publication with my advisor so it's definitely a start. the paper will also become my masters thesis so again, it has potential. the issue is that it would be hard to edit into a paper that is as well written as the short one and it will certainly not do for those schools that require shorter writing samples...also, the paper has potential but it's not going to be 'ready' for a while--i won't be ready to submit it for publication until maybe january and my thesis won't be completed until may...

any advice? when they say writing sample, do they mean research paper/thesis/original work? would a paper for a doctoral seminar that is clearly an assignment be poorly received?

thanks much for all your help!


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It's extremely obvious to me to go with the 18-pager. If it's too long, you can insert brackets that say something like "[Methods section edited for length]" and cut out large pieces.

I'm not going to bother explaining all the reasons why you should go with that one. Just do it.

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