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Published or unpublished writing samples?

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In the comments sections of our 'Ask a search-committee member' thread, ED writes: Assuming all else equal, do search committees prefer an unpublished paper as a writing sample to a very recently published or forthcoming paper being used as a writing sample? Assuming so, and now assuming that one thing is not equal - namely, that the unpublished paper still has some minor kinks to be ironed out (because it's unpublished!), would search committees still prefer to read the unpublished thing over the more polished recently published or forthcoming one? Or is all of this just terribly nit-picky and not worth worrying about? Good questions. I honestly don't know the answers! I've heard conflicting things. I recall hearing before that some think published pieces look more professional. But I also recall others suggesting it may be best to submit an unpublished piece, as it suggests your best work is still to come. Personally, I'm inclined to say one should just. . .

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News source: The Philosophers' Cocoon

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