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Before the Dissertation

A Textual Mentor for Doctoral Students at Early Stages of a Research Project
Foreword by John M. Swales
Christine Pearson Casanave


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/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.

Praise / Awards

  • “This very readable book is what every graduate student needs as they start their program. I wish my own MA and PhD students, during my 40 years of supervising, could have been demystified by having Casanave's ‘textual mentor’ as a companion."
    —Merrill Swain, Professor Emerita, OISE, University of Toronto
  • “Before the Dissertation is an insightful, relevant, and accessible resource for doctoral students at any stage. Full of reflections and advice not found in other books, it serves as an indispensable guide for students and their supervisors. And the dispelling of myths is a superb idea!”

    —Robert Kohls, PhD Candidate
  • "The honest, self-revealing writing in this book communicate powerfully and explicitly to doctoral students at all stages of their work and to their advisors. The suggestions for discussion and reflection are excellent."
    —Youngjoo Yi, Associate Professor, Ohio State University

Product Details

  • 176 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12203-5

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  • dissertation, research projects, graduate student, mentoring, advisors, doctoral program, doctoral study, doctoral student, reducing PhD student attrition, textual mentor, research memos, dissertation journals, dissertation proposal, dissertation planning, choosing a dissertation topic, faculty advisers, topic refinement, topic development, literature search, quality of life, reasons to enter a doctoral program, theoretical framing, reading for the dissertation, early stages of the research project, master's students