Our books

Become a Fan

« Tips for reply papers? | Main | How to list non-standard forms of 'teaching'? »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Tim O'Keefe

I agree with the reasons not to submit two writing samples, but here is one way to try to still have it both ways. (To be clear, I'm unsure if this is the best approach.)

--Submit the paper on X, as you believe it's your best piece of work.

--In your cover letter, say something like the following: "I am excited to apply for the job at U of Big Square State. As I describe in my research statement, I specialize in both X and Y. But these are not two parallel areas of interest; they interact in my work. I enclose a writing sample on X. However, if members of the search committee wish to look at it, I will be happy to send a writing sample on Y to demonstrate my proficiency in that area."


I was in a very similar situation, and I chose to use my work in Y as my writing sample.

I have not served on any search committee so I could be wrong. I feel that by having Y as the AOS, they expected me to have research projects In Y. So, I needed to show that I did have such research project(s). I could always *say* that in my cover letter, research statement, and ask my letter writers to say that in their letters. But since my dissertation was not in Y, the only evidence that *shows* my research in Y was my writing sample.

William Vanderburgh

I think almost everything Marcus said here is correct. Competition is so high right now that small differences, ones that ultimately come down to fit rather than "quality" (see: ZAMM), are often the deciding factors. If the job is in Y then the department will be comparing other writing samples of Y; submitting a sample of X will make you look like one of those candidates (my god, there are so many) who apply to jobs they don't fit. I wouldn't submit two writing samples. Most committees won't read both, and if they do they might end up saying, "too bad, this one is good in X but not that good in Y." If they choose one, they will read the Y anyway, given the requirements of the job.

The ultimate solution, I think, is to write something better on topic Y. ;-)

job market

thanks all - this is very helpful!

Mike Titelbaum

Often you are not in a position to know what the hiring department is looking for. They might just need someone who can teach Y, but would be happy if the main focus of your research is in X. Or they might really want someone with a research speciality in Y, who will maintain the department's presence in that area, advise doctoral theses, etc.

If you can find out what the situation is with a particular department, then you can tailor your application strategy for them appropriately. But if you don't know, then you can just be forthright in your cover letter. Say that you've written a dissertation in X, but you have expertise in Y and are prepared to teach it. So you've sent along two writing samples to demonstrate this—or maybe you've sent along one, but point to another on your website they can check out if they're interested. Your research statement will also be an occasion to say how you see these areas fitting together, and where you see yourself going with each in the future.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Job ads crowdsourcing thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory