Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Developing “Six-liners” and Exposés

The exposé is a crucial step on the way to a publishable academic text or to a research project slated to begin soon. At the same time, it is an academic text genre of its own. Therefore it is included in the Navigation menu of our site under both WORK STEPS and TEXT FORMATS.

Exposés are comparable to the research applications submitted to funding institutions like the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Volkswagen Foundation. Yet a it is difficult to search for examples, since research applications are generally not published. We recommend asking your instructors directly.


The “Six-liner” As the First Step to an Academic Text

A good way to get started putting together an exposé (or – skipping the intermediate step of the exposé – a term or final paper) is always by writing what is called a “six-liner”. This is a written method that helps clarify exactly what you would like to research and write about by forcing yourself to depict in six written “lines”, as precisely as possible, the conceptual considerations for anything from a term paper to a research project. In so doing you compose at least one sentence pronouncing your view on each of six items important for an academic work: topic, scientific question, theoretical concept, methodological approach, possible thesis, potential literature. You do not have to limit yourself to a single sentence. Simply write one or a few paragraphs on each item, while trying to specify as precisely as possible where the path of the planned investigation is to lead you.


Recognizing Gaps and Filling Them Systematically

By means of the six-liner it is generally immediately apparent which of your own ideas are already well developeed, and where gaps are still evident. Once you have identified these gaps, they can be filled in systematically: through more reading, by asking questions in seminars, with the support of fellow students, or by directly addressing instructors you believe are somewhat competent on the given subject.


Quick links to more

How to write a six-liner? PDF

How to write a research exposé? PDF