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I have a manuscript that is under review in a major journal which is a main result out of a few recent years of my research. When applying for faculty positions, I would like to send the draft as a part of my writing sample. But since the material is not yet published, I am not sure if it is a good idea.

What are the foreseeable disadvantages of sending an article in review to the faculty search committee?

My area is neuroscience / biomedical engineering.

Update: The paper got into a high-profile journal, and I got a job at a different place which did not require a writing sample.

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First, From a legal point of view I do not think you will have any problems sending out a pre-review version of your manuscript since your have the intellectual rights to your own work. Usually most publishers' copyrights start when they have processed the material in some way but even then, if you are not using the material for any commercial purpose or for being reproduced publically, I cannot see any problem.

Then, I cannot really see any problems sending a pre-reveiw manuscript to a search committee unless it is of poor quality. Sending your work allows people to see what you are doing and a manuscript (in very good shape) will allow people to see your latest work in detail. Naturally a manuscript will not carry as much merit as a published paper since it has not been through peer review. But, if it is interesting, well written and in impeccable order you will be showing your skills in some way.

So it could provide a slight positive in a search situation if good but be very negative if bad and your judgement is what will be at stake.

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Although your question is specifically for faculty job applications, I would like to generalize and add to Peter's answer.

For doctoral program admissions, I often sent out an article under review whenever asked for a writing sample. Not all programs ask for this ; for some its optional and for some its not but I sent them anyway. Usually, when I was interviewed for the position after having made it through some of the initial cut-offs, my writing sample was alluded to and often, questions were centered around it.

Therefore, I would like to say that sending it in anyway will not detract from your application but might even add to it.

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To add to the existing answers, I'd note that in some fields, the review process can be very long. If you stick only to papers that have been published, you'll be giving the committee a picture of your research that may be years out of date. Committees will understand this; sometimes they explicitly ask for preprints.

If you're confident in the quality of the article, and have a reasonable expectation of eventually getting it published, send it along. Conversely, if you don't feel the article represents your best work, don't send it, even if it has been published already!

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