Foundational issues -- Things to consider before deciding to pursue a doctoral degree -- Writing research memos and dissertation journals -- Initial thoughts on topics -- Reading in the early stages -- Thinking theoretically and conceptually -- Finding advisers-supervisors and mentors -- Seeking supportive people -- Topic and project development and refinement. Unlike other books on doctoral dissertation writing, Before the Dissertation is designed for students in the social sciences who are still in the early stages of doctoral study or for master's-level students considering entering doctoral programs. It addresses concerns pertinent to both first and second language users of English. It focuses on purposes for doctoral dissertation writing, topic choice and development, choosing and working with advisers, reading and informal writing, and quality-of-life issues. Faculty advisers who wish to reduce student attrition are also urged to read this book and to work with students at early stages of dissertation projects. Each of the nine chapters begins with a common myth about advanced academic work that is then dispelled. The chapters also pose questions that connect issues directly with individual readers so as to help them make sensible decisions about their doctoral work. The book could be used in graduate classes on issues in doctoral study or dissertation planning, and it can be a companion (textual mentor) to individual students who wish to reflect on their decision to pursue doctoral study or a doctoral project. This book may also help instructors and advisers understand the kinds of obstacles faced by students that tend to impede or halt progress.