Jump to content

Question regarding Writing Sample


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

I graduated with a degree in Philosophy and am now applying for a PhD in Political Science. I'm having a hard time deciding what to submit as my writing sample.  I don't have any solo-authored papers that'll show the admissions committee my proficiency in quantitative methods. I've published in a peer-reviewed journal before, but don't think I can submit that piece because it's co-authored. However, I did write a senior thesis on Hannah Arendt and democratic theory, which received an A. Should I write a new and more 'quantitative' article, or merely revise and improve a section of my undergraduate thesis? Will doing the latter be a dealbreaker for PhD programs? I'd prefer to focus on the other aspects of my application, but will write something entirely new if needed.

Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't mention which subfield you're applying to, but I will assume, based on your major, that you're applying for political theory programs. If so, you would probably be better off submitting your writing sample on Arendt. If they see that you indicated political theory as a subfield, they want to know that you are capable of doing political theory, and that you know what it is. If you intend to apply to a different subfield, I would suspect that your Arendt paper would still suffice. If that particular subfield tends towards quantitative methods / if you indicate an interest in quantitative methods, adcoms would probably look for quantitative coursework in your transcript, on your resume for computer language proficiency or research positions which used quantitative analysis, or testimonies from letter writers on your quantitative skills.

If you do submit your Arendt paper, I would also suggest getting second perspectives and polishing it. That choice, however, is up to your discretion.

Edited by Chausson
grammar
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Chausson said:

You don't mention which subfield you're applying to, but I will assume, based on your major, that you're applying for political theory programs. If so, you would probably be better off submitting your writing sample on Arendt. If they see that you indicated political theory as a subfield, they want to know that you are capable of doing political theory, and that you know what it is. If you intend to apply to a different subfield, I would suspect that your Arendt paper would still suffice. If that particular subfield tends towards quantitative methods / if you indicate an interest in quantitative methods, adcoms would probably look for quantitative coursework in your transcript, on your resume for computer language proficiency or research positions which used quantitative analysis, or testimonies from letter writers on your quantitative skills.

If you do submit your Arendt paper, I would also suggest getting second perspectives and polishing it. That choice, however, is up to your discretion.

I'll specialize in Comparative Politics and make Political Theory either my second major (if possible) or minor. Given that, do you think the Arendt paper would suffice? And definitely, I have plans to policy the paper. Thankfully, my undergraduate thesis advisor has agreed to help me out a bit. 

Edited by Imperator_Taco
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it doesn't seem like you have many options here.

1) Do you even have any quant training? No point in trying to write something that you don't really know what you are doing in.

2) There is no way you can just throw together an excellent writing sample from scratch in a month and half (or less). 

Submitting a purely theoretical paper if you are trying to apply for comparative politics is not very desirable, but what else do you have here? Try to make it the best you can I guess. Is there any way you can expand the democratic theory into something empirical with a puzzle that fits well into comparative politics scholarship? That's probably the only way to make this really work. 

Edited by PoliticalOrder
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, PoliticalOrder said:

Well, it doesn't seem like you have many options here.

1) Do you even have any quant training? No point in trying to write something that you don't really know what you are doing in.

2) There is no way you can just throw together an excellent writing sample from scratch in a month and half (or less). 

Submitting a purely theoretical paper if you are trying to apply for comparative politics is not very desirable, but what else do you have here? Try to make it the best you can I guess. Is there any way you can expand the democratic theory into something empirical with a puzzle that fits well into comparative politics scholarship? That's probably the only way to make this really work. 

I agree with much of this. 

 

1) if you don't have quant training, it is going to be tough to teach yourself in such a short amount of time and turnout a paper.

 

2) I think it is possible to throw together an excellent writing sample. Depends on how much time you spend on it each day. 

 

I think the writing sample is meant to demonstrate your ability to 1) think and 2) ability to write an academic paper. I would not worry too much about it being quantitative or comparative in nature. It is not great, but it is what you have. Make it clear in you SOP as to why you are moving from philosophy to comparative. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year, i applied in Comparative, and I included a writing sample that straddled American and Theory. I don't think they care so much that it meshes with your current subfield interest as much as they care about you knowing how to formulate a useful research question, investigate the literature, and use a good research design to provide some useful results. I'm sure the Hannah Arendt piece would work fine as long as it's well-written.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know if this helps but I e-mailed one of the programs and asked if I could submit a History paper with implications for IR when I'm applying to IR and they replied it's fine as long as the committee knows what I'm writing about so I guess quality matters more than how related it is to the program you're applying... 

Link to post
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
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

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