Wednesday, April 13, 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

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

The published version always looks better, and also serves as a reminder to the search committee that you have been published.

Anonymous said...

no question: always use the published copy. always.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with both 9:12 and 10:40

No question, definitely submit the published copy. I can't see any reason to submit a plan word processing version.

Ben A. said...

Related question: how long after publication does it become imprudent to use a published paper as one's writing sample?

Asstro said...

Best to use something published in the past year or two. SCs want to know if you have a forward-looking research program. They don't want someone who has already used up her good ideas.

And yes, use the published version.

Anonymous said...

Duh. Winning!

Ben said...

I've always sent the published version - or in one case (with an article that was still forthcoming) I believe I sent the proofs. I don't really see the advantage in sending a Word version.

zombie said...

Published, for all the reasons stated above. It looks better, and it reminds the SC that you are published (and where). Possibly make an exception if you have a really awesome forthcoming paper in a really top tier journal.

Use the best, most recent paper you have, and the one most applicable to the job AOS.

Anonymous said...

I've never used a published piece as a writing sample. Always thought it would be good to highlight work I'm working on now, not what I did in the past.

See, this is why you need to go to a grad school with people who are clued in. (I went to one of the lowly ranked schools where prep for the job market involves little more than prayer and tales of the times your profs knew people who got jobs when they were in grad school.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:57's point highlights an important distinction here: The original question asked about using the published or word-processed version of the same paper. If you've settled on using a particular paper for your sample, and that paper has been published, by all means send the published paper.

When you should use a published paper versus an unpublished paper as your writing sample is a separate question altogether. As zombie notes, there are relevant criteria other than having been published. In some cases, you might want to send an unpublished paper instead of a different, published one.

Anonymous said...

Published. . . . It looks better, and it reminds the SC that you are published (and where).

Sending the published version seems tacky to me--as if the candidate is trying to direct my attention to the fact and site of publication rather than just letting the work speak for itself.

Big D said...

I was also considering sending a paper that reflects my other research interests, but the published one came out quite recently.

Given that the published paper however has been through a bit more review and editing, I'm inclined to submit it for any applications I make at the moment.

Anonymous said...

This wins the prize for THE MOST ridiculous thread ever. If you can't figure out the answer to this question, then you shouldn't be getting a PhD.

Big D said...

Anon 10:13,

This is my worry about submitting the published form. One way I could circumvent that problem is simply by sending in something else I've been working on that isn't (yet) published.

What do other Smokers think about that?

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.

Anonymous said...

The best possible combination is to send a published work and something you are working on. I already know you published the essay from your C.V.--Awesome, Good for you, I am possibly excited. Now I want to see what else you are doing. Of course, sending two writing samples also might make me cranky. But people do it all the time. I hardly think this is THE most ridiculous thread of all time. It's tricky. People want to see that you published and that published piece is also, probably, your most polished work. But people also want to see what you are up to next to assure them you are not a one-hit-wonder.

Anonymous said...

"This wins the prize for THE MOST ridiculous thread ever. If you can't figure out the answer to this question, then you shouldn't be getting a PhD."

Ha ha ha, false.

If you can't figure out the answer to this question, you shouldn't do anything that doesn't require a Ph.D. and you should stay in a classroom.

wv: asper

You do it.

Anonymous said...

There is a way to negotiate this. You can submit the word copy, but simply include an unnumbered first footnote/endnote saying: A revised version of this essay is published in Blah Blah journal of Blah.
This also gives one the option of including this information when the piece is being prepared for publication or still under review. Just to instill in them the idea that you are producing work, sending them out for publication, etc.

Anonymous said...

the only scenario where i think sending the published version could be bad is if, en route to being published, you made the paper worse---independently confirmed by someone else---in some way.

Anonymous said...

Sending the published version seems tacky to me--as if the candidate is trying to direct my attention to the fact and site of publication rather than just letting the work speak for itself.

In which case the work will only "speak for itself" if the SC member happens to look it up in the journal. Maybe that's not a bad thing. But if the SC member's pressed for time, then the article may not get a chance to "speak for itself."

Anonymous said...

In which case the work will only "speak for itself" if the SC member happens to look it up in the journal.

I think you're forgetting what the issue is here. See anon 8:27 for the relevant reminder: "The original question asked about using the published or word-processed version of the same paper." So the SC member will see the paper regardless of which choice you make, right?

But if the SC member's pressed for time, then the article may not get a chance to "speak for itself."

The folks I've served on SCs with have all been really conscientious. My suspicion (and, of course, hope) is that that is typical--we're choosing colleagues who will have a significant impact on our our well-being, after all.

Mr. Zero said...

I see where you would prefer the published version over the MS Word version. The published version is going to be much nicer looking than the MS Word version, and will (I guess) serve as a constant reminder that the thing was published.

But I often think my LaTeX documents are better-looking than the published versions. And I guess I'm not convinced of the value of the "constant reminder" effect. It seems to me that whether this particular paper is published is somewhat less important than the overall number and quality of your publications as a whole.

(Not to say I am especially skeptical of the "constant reminder" effect.)

Also, a lot of journals make you use endnotes, and as a reader, endnotes drive me fucking nuts.