The first comprehensive written presentation of a research project takes place after the orientation and planning phase in the form of an exposé. It describes in a generally understandable way all essential aspects of the future project with regard to research context, research topic, research question, methods, sources and resources.
It is necessary or useful
Both the preparation of the exposé, which often requires a clear structuring and verbalization of the research idea for the first time, is useful for the researcher, as is the fixed result, which forms a thematic, methodological and planning anchor for the duration of the research project - regardless of how far one eventually moves away from it. There are no uniform guidelines for exposés. In the field of audio communication, exposés for theses should have a length of 3-4 pages of text (Arial 11 point single-spaced), for dissertations a length of 6-8 pages is common, while applications for grants and project proposals also require a length of 10-15 pages. The synopsis should have the following structure:
Heavily abbreviated, synoptic statement of research need, research question, method, expected result, and benefits.
Brief outline of the topic with a quick focus on the subject under investigation. For this purpose, aspects of the history of technology or a research tradition can be outlined, an existing theoretical background can be illuminated, a classification in research disciplines can be made and, if applicable, a personal research interest can be stated. The introduction of the topic should be focused on a concrete question, at the same time the relevance of the topic should be made clear, e.g. with regard to society, basic research or concrete applications.
State of the art of research
Overview of existing work in the thematically closer research area. The author conveys his/her knowledge of the subject and points out research deficits and, if applicable, points of contact to existing work. This results in the research relevance, a further thematic delimitation as well as possible methodological approaches.
The methods used to answer the question outlined above should be named and their suitability briefly justified. This can be a source research, a qualitative or quantitative analysis, an empirical procedure (with experimental design, effect criteria, variation of conditions, sample, operationalization or measuring instrument, technical means and statistical evaluation) or a technical procedure. Here, too, a reference to methodological literature and methodologically comparable studies is appropriate. If source work is in the foreground, description and assessment of the source situation with regard to type, extent, expected relevance and accessibility, possibly also in the form of a table or a sketch. At this point, reference should also be made to existing declarations of intent and agreements (e.g. with archives, laboratories, cooperation partners).
If preliminary work has already been done that goes beyond the planning of the investigation (e.g. extensive research, production of objects of investigation or research tools, preliminary experiments), this should be listed with reference to specific points of contact.
Work plan and time schedule
A preliminary structuring of the time available for the project in the form of a work plan documents a realistic assessment of the sequence, structure and scope of the expected research work. A weekly schedule is recommended for smaller projects, and a monthly schedule for larger ones. Within these units, several small work steps can be listed.
List of literature used in the synopsis. It should already include the publications central to the research, even if additional sources and references are developed during the course of the work.
Kruse, Otto (2005). Keine Angst vor dem leeren Blatt: ohne Schreibblockaden durchs Studium. (Campus concret; 16). 11. Aufl. Frankfurt/Main, New York: Campus.
Karmasin, Matthias und Ribing, Rainer (2006). Die Gestaltung wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten. (UTB 2774), Wien: WUV Facultas