Thursday, April 14, 2011

Published Writing Samples

Big D asks, 

Okay, job-related question. If I'm submitting a writing sample for an application, and it has been published, should I submit a copy of the final, published form, or a simple copy from my word processing program?

I don't think it really matters. I've had success--that is, I've gotten interviews--both ways. What say you, Smokers?

--Mr. Zero

[Essential answer is if your going to submit THAT essay submit it in published form. If one is thinking about submitting another essay it complicates the issue.]


Dr. Killjoy said...

No doubt you are expected to send your best work, but herein lies the rub.

We expect ABD and other fresh-faced newly-minted folks to have but one or two well-crafted, highly polished papers. So, if you ain't so fresh-faced no mores, then it probably is a bad idea to send a search committee a published work more than a year old.

For example, suppose ol' Fred, who has been out for a few years, sends as a writing sample a paper of his published in 2009. If the paper was published in 2009, then that means ol' Fred had more or less washed his hands of it and moved on at least a year prior, and that means that ol' Fred presumably has nothing of comparable quality to show for the last three years. Of course, it's great that Fred had milk in the fridge at some point cuz fridges should have milk in them. However, there's a point at which that once sweet milk begins to turn oh so sour--once it does, it starts smelling like ol' Fred ain't on the philosophical milkman's delivery route no more.

You should be well into your career before your best work is behind you. Not only should you be more productive than you were in grad school, you should be getting better and better. Most importantly, you need to convince the search committee of this improvement because just as folks who think High School was the best four years of their lives clearly are folks who now have shit-awful lives, those who think their best work was done in grad school clearly are those who now do shit-awful work.

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