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Definition Of An Exploratory Essay

Organizing an Exploratory Essay


This resource will help you with exploratory/inquiry essay assignments.

Contributors: Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:44:38

Exploratory essays are very different from argumentative essays. In fact, an exploratory essay is likely different from any other essay you’ve written. Instead of writing to convince an audience of the validity of a thesis, you will be writing to find out about a problem and perhaps to form some preliminary conclusions about how it might be solved.

But there is another aspect the exploratory genre that is equally important. An exploratory essay is, in essence, a retrospective of your writing and thinking process as you work through a problem. It describes when, how, and why you completed certain types of research. This kind of writing is about how you work through problems that require writing and research. You will have to be introspective and think about your thinking process in order for your essay to turn out well.

Very roughly, then, your exploratory essay may follow this sort of structure:


The introduction should outline the problem you explored and why it’s important. In addition, you should briefly discuss 1) some of the problem’s possible causes; 2) the institutions and people involved with the problem; 3) some of the possible solutions to the problem. A brief overview of the types of sources your researched during your inquiry.

Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs should discuss the inquiry process you followed to research your problem. These paragraphs should include the following:

  1. Introduction of source (title, author, type of media, publisher, publication date, etc.) and why you chose to use it in your exploration
  2. Important information you found in the source regarding your problem
  3. Why the information is important and dependable in relation to the problem
  4. Some personal introspection on how the source helped you, allowed you to think differently about the problem, or even fell short of your expectations and led you in a new direction in your research, which forms a transition into your next source.


The conclusion should restate the problem you explored, outline some of its possible causes, review the institutions and people involved, and highlight some possible solutions. If you still have any questions about the problem (and it’s ok to have some), you will discuss them here. Talk about why you think you still have questions regarding the problem you explored, where you might look to answer these questions, and what other forms of research you would have to do.

An exploratory essay is commonly given so that students find methods to branch off in a precise subject without taking a stand. Exploratory essays can be an array from a complete research essay to a short essay. Exploratory thinking and writing keeps a problem alive through essential concern of multiple answers or approach.  The writer identifies a problem, reflects a possible solution, discovers its strengths and weakness, and then moves to ponder another possible solution. The process of spawning and exploring ideas is, the crux, the subject matter of an exploratory or inquiry essay.   

What are Exploratory Essays

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Exploratory essays ask and probe questions and collect evidence that may answer questions. However, the main concept of the exploratory essay is not to find distinct convinced answers. The main idea is to bear inquiry into a topic, collect evidence or facts, and share that information with readers. Exploratory essays are non-fiction where a writer examines the problems, idea or experience without backing a statement and gradually makes decisions and discoveries along the way.  The purpose of an exploratory essay is to start without an end in mind. A writer might not necessarily know how to feel about a certain subject or what to tell about the subject instead allow the research to determine the outcome. It is writing to learn rather than writing to prove what is known.

The Exploratory Essay Should..

  • Evolve a question or hint to explore innumerable ways of observing it in lieu of just hastily coming to a meek judgement.
  • Value the student's knowledge and explanations as indication to improve the idea or problem.
  • Have an overview that draws readers into the questioning/problem/concern and gives them a common but fine taste of what may shadow.
  • Lead the readers to a sense of reaching around by the judgement
  • Convey a feel of writer's voice without being too casual. The style of the paper should convince reviving energy to it.

Purpose of an Exploratory Essay

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The exploratory essay shapes the exploratory essay by having you look at and give to an array of opinions rather than just one at a time. Although the exploratory essay presented to a discussion by looking at one argument a time, the exploratory essay widens the vision to the complete conversation.

  • The main emphasis of an exploratory essay is an inquiry, rather than a thesis.
  • An exploratory essay yields different effects: The ‘in-process’ approach creates contiguity, while a ‘retrospective’ approach creates more imaginatively intended essays.
  • Exploratory essays record research whereabouts and the intellectual that outcomes from the actions; they discourse both content familiar questions and stylistic questions about likely answers to the problem under concern.
  • Exploratory essays frequently reflect the strengths and weaknesses of several diverse solutions to a confusing problem.

While writing an Exploratory Essay focus on the below things:

  1. The context of the essay, the main idea or chief question, and the situations of the topic
  2. Why the topic or the subject is important?
  3. What is the importance of the topic in details of its informative value?
  4. What is the sole reason that the topic should interest the reader?
  5. Allow the reader to easily follow the essay by clarifying what it is that you will be talking about.

Exploratory Essay Format

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An exploratory essay is a reconsidering of writing and thinking process as the writer works through a problem. It defines when, how, and why the writer completed certain researches. This exploratory writing is about how a problem is worked that require writing and research. 


In the introduction, tell the reader what they’re reading and what the writer hopes they will achieve. The introduction should shape the problem the writer discovered and why it’s imperative. Describe the issue/ main idea, and why it’s important/ interesting in the introductory paragraph. Discuss briefly matters that are directly related; the causes of the problem, history of the issue, etc. A brief overview of the sources researched during inquiry should be mentioned without fail.  In addition, you should briefly discuss  

  • Some of the problem’s possible causes.
  • The institutions and people involved with the problem.
  • Explain why the topic is important.
  • State the question or topic of study.
  • Some of the possible solutions to the problem.
  • Talk about the different perspectives included in the subject.


Explain the concern, subject and give additional contextual; current related facts. Evaluate the perceptions and attach them to the experiences from which those viewpoints emerge. Each paragraph should clarify what source was used, why it was chosen, explain why the info is important, and reveal the source and its evidence. Body paragraphs should discuss the review process to research the problem. Define the different viewpoints on the issue in detail and likely solutions to the issue.  The paragraphs should include the following:

  1. Introduction of the origin (title, author, publisher, periodical date, type of media etc.) and why you chose to use it in the investigation.
  2. Important evidences found in the origin concerning the problem.
  3. Why the information is essential and reliable in kin to the problem.
  4. Help the reader comprehend the state by setting the environment.
  5. Hook the reader with a convincing statement that inspires him or her to read the essay.
  6. Clearly state the research question that connects what you’re trying to learn in this essay.
  7. Some personal contemplation on how the source helped, allowed you to think differently about the problem leading into a new track in the research, which forms a transition to the next source.


The conclusion is very akin to the introduction it should reaffirm the problem explored, summarize some of its likely causes, analyze the organizations and people involved, and focus on solutions. The Conclusion should give an overall summary of what has been conferred. Many times, the question is repeated in the conclusion for support.

An exploratory essay is used to investigate an issue, not to take sides or to persuade therefore, you should remain as objective as possible. It teaches both the reader and writer to learn and grow that lead to new understandings and considerations. The main thing you should remember in an exploratory essay is that you are supposed to explore, find explanations and answers, and understand something new.

Exploratory Essay Topics

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Mentioned below are Exploratory Essay Topics
  • Adoption is a good way to build a family.
  • Single parents should be allowed to adopt more children.
  • Divorce negatively affects families
  • What is the effect of technology such as cell phones on family life?
  • Should there be a limit on the use of technology in schools?
  • How can students avoid procrastination and manage time better?
  • What is the effect of coffee on young people?
  • Can music and art be used to help prisoners rehabilitate?
  • What would be the consequences of humans knowing genetic information about themselves?
  • Is the greenhouse effect real?
  • Is an electric car a realistic possibility in the near future?
  • Will nanotechnology really help us clean up the environment?
  • Can renewable energy really provide enough power?
  • Will technology mean the loss of teacher jobs?
  • Do computers teach better than humans?
  • How will instructors and instructions have to change in order to incorporate social media in the classroom?

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