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08/22/2018

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Amanda

I used to submit additional writing samples for research schools, but then I had someone recommend against this. There reasoning was researchers are really picky, and if you submit more than one sample it just increases the odds they will find something problematic.

Al

I had a grad school prof who thought (roughly) “send what you have (within reason) and let them decide what to do with it”. I still have sympathy with this but I later asked a now friend who was on a search for which I applied (and didn’t make any interesting cuts) “do you remember my file”. “Yes”. “I had a lot letters, was that bad”. “I do remember that. I doubt it made a difference but it was annoying”. I’m still not sure what to do. I think if I were looking today I’d just give exactly what’s asked unless I had a really really good reason to diverge.

Chris

Amanda is right - submitting more than one sample can give faculty more things to find problematic. However, it can also give them more things to find that they like. But you should only submit two (short, one hopes) samples if you think they're approximately equally strong. If one is weaker, busy committee members might just read that one.

As far as letters go - too many can be distracting, especially if several are short and not very detailed. Sometimes it will look like they just asked several famous people in the field to write letters on their behalf and these people were nice and said "yes" but don't provide much detail. But as long as all the letters are strong I wouldn't worry about this.
Now, if the letters all speak to different aspects of your file, that's fine (e.g., suppose you were a visiting graduate student at a different university, perhaps also taught there, etc.). There might be good reasons why you have extra letters.

Another thing you can do - and maybe Marcus or someone has already posted about this - is be sure to have a professional website. If you're applying for a research job, and you have several strong papers in progress, you can have them all on your home page. Busy committee members aren't likely to look you up at the early stages, but as the search gets down to fewer finalists, they're more likely to look at your webpage (if any). If you have a strong overall dissertation (i.e., the quality throughout is comparable to your best writing sample), you might want to make the whole thing easily available. Some applicants really do have strong overall dissertations, and this can be hard to see from a 20 page writing sample. Or maybe you have another paper in a secondary area that you've sent off to a journal that is polished. You can put that up and simply add a link in your application materials. Some applicants will have it password protected so that only search committee members can see this material, if you're not ready (for whatever reason) for the whole world to have access to your other work.

I'm at a research school, but perhaps some of the same advice would apply, mutatis mutandis, to teaching schools.

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