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"The quality of what you submit" - as if philosophers could ever even remotely agree about that! Many of the most famous philosophy papers have a large percentage of philosophers who say it is one of the highest quality papers ever written , and then another large percentage who insist it is objectively terrible.

As far as having "kinks to iron out" - my guess is published pieces have that too - unless you are the rare breed who has managed to write a perfect paper.

From what I have heard - there is not a consensus, or anything close to it, on this subject. So I wouldn't spend too much time stressing about which is best. Personally, I would submit a published piece for the sample and then do a work in progress for the job talk. That way the committee sees some of each. Often you can submit more than one paper for the sample, but I wouldn't submit more than two as that gives search committee members more with which to find fault.

Assitant Prof.

I don't think there is anything established as best practice in this case. But I agree with Marcus that it is important to submit what you think is your best work, or at least something you think is very good.

That said, I think there is a strong reason for submitting a *good* unpublished paper, in cases where one is available: making more of your work available for inspection. If you make it sufficiently far into the process, the hiring department will very likely read (or skim) your published papers to get a sense of your work. So any published paper will get viewed at that stage anyway. The writing sample and the job talk, then, provide you with an opportunity to show more of what you've got.

Now, given my partial agreement with Marcus, I don't think this consideration takes priority over submitting your best work, or at least something that is very good. And, moreover, I think this is a consideration that only applies to those who have *two* good unpublished papers: one for the sample and one for the talk. I don't think it looks good when you submit and present the same paper, and I don't think it looks good when you present a published paper.

Daniel Brunson

I am not a search committee member, but recency might be a factor to consider; send your best paper, but maybe not if it is more than a couple of years old?

Also, to make it explicit, send your best paper that is most relevant to the ad. Say you work in both ethics and philosophy of language, and your best paper is on ethics, while the hire is for philosophy of language - you should probably send your best philosophy of language paper even if it is not your best paper overall.

Christopher Hitchcock

Send your best paper, regardless of whether it is published or not. "Best" here involves the best trade-off of (i) philosophical quality, (ii) fit for the areas listed in the job ad, (iii) length (not too long), and (iv) accessibility.

If you maintain a website with other papers on it, we will come looking for them if we are even remotely interested.


One reason to send in a published writing sample is that it has been vetted already. So it is probably quite polished. Especially at teaching colleges, where often no one on the search committee will know your area well, it is important to have a very finished looking paper. People are often - too often - terrible judges of the papers they are working on. Half of the raging against referees is a consequence of this fact.

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