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Steph Smith

Do you save old papers?

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I am a December 2016 graduate preparing applications for graduate school in fall of 2018. I've recetly been cleaning up my lap top and physical files and have had a hard time deciding if I should delete old papers. I've only referred to old assignments a handful of times, though at those times it was handy to have them. So, do you keep yours, keep some of them, or throw them all away? 

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If they're digital, I'd keep them because there's no real cost to maintaining digital files of papers. I'd probably get rid of the hard copies unless there are comments on them you might find valuable (in which case I'd probably scan them).

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I keep digital copies of all of my work (papers, homework assignments, notes). A lot of it is useless, I agree. But I have found a lot of my old work helpful in teaching. It's handy to be able to see what I have done in the past or what was assigned to me to inspire me to create new assignments. My old course notes (digitized) also help me think about ways I can present material. 

As long as there's no undue costs to you, it's worth keeping a wide range of materials, in my opinion. You don't really know what you're going to teach next and even though you might become an expert/scholar in one very niche/specific field, chances are, you will be teaching much more general/lower-level stuff to first year college students (if you go this route, of course). For example, I've tutored and/or TA'ed for things like first-year/general physics which is within the realm of my expertise but not really something I think about on a day-to-day basis as part of my regular work (i.e. the last time I took the course was 12 years ago in my freshman year). 

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Sure.  Only because I'm a pack rat :P But yes, I have referenced to them when I was studying for my exams and teaching undergrads.  It's hilarious to look back on your professors' comments while you're learning how to grade!

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Digital-- Yes. The other day I found an old paper from a class I took in my third year and oh my. OH MY. It was fun.

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Build on OP's question, have you tried or thought about elaborating, developing or incorporating your past and recent seminar papers into your future research or publications, especially if they are irrelevant to your field or dissertation topic?

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7 hours ago, VAZ said:

Build on OP's question, have you tried or thought about elaborating, developing or incorporating your past and recent seminar papers into your future research or publications, especially if they are irrelevant to your field or dissertation topic?

I have done this with two papers, one of which was presented at two national conferences and is in the process of being finessed for a writing sample for applications this fall. However, that is one out of dozens of papers I've written.

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19 hours ago, VAZ said:

Build on OP's question, have you tried or thought about elaborating, developing or incorporating your past and recent seminar papers into your future research or publications, especially if they are irrelevant to your field or dissertation topic?

Absolutely. You are always inadvertently building on your own knowledge, skills, and research, even if themes look apart from each other. In my case, I have incorporated work from undergrad into MA and then into PhD by reading my past paper, pulling a face in disgust, and then improving my past self. 

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On 7/30/2017 at 1:27 PM, rising_star said:

If they're digital, I'd keep them because there's no real cost to maintaining digital files of papers. I'd probably get rid of the hard copies unless there are comments on them you might find valuable (in which case I'd probably scan them).

This is exactly what I do. I recycle physical papers after scanning them to save their comments.

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I keep all my papers on a USB plus google drive. Most of my professors do digital comments but if they don't then I keep a hard copy and scan any comments I need to save.

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Yes. I'm in the process of publishing an old paper after I saw a CfP on a listserv. I knew I had a paper that fit the description, and after a bit of tweaking and editing, it was accepted into the review process for publishing. I would keep all your papers handy and saved in some fashion, whether that be digital or paper is up to you. You never know when your old work will finally pay off.

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