exploratory essay

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

An exploratory essay is a short work of nonfiction in which a writer works through a problem or examines an idea or experience, without necessarily attempting to back up a claim or support a thesis . In the tradition of the Essays of Montaigne (1533-1592), an exploratory essay tends to be speculative, ruminative, and digressive.

William Zeiger has characterized the exploratory essay as open : "[I]t is easy to see that expository composition —writing whose great virtue is to confine the reader to a single, unambiguous line of thought—is closed , in the sense of permitting, ideally, only one valid interpretation. An 'exploratory' essay, on the other hand, is an open work of nonfiction prose . It cultivates ambiguity and complexity to allow more than one reading or response to the work." ("The Exploratory Essay: Enfranchising the Spririt of Enquiry in College Composition." College English , 1985)

Examples of Exploratory Essays

Here are some exploratory essays by famous authors:

  • "The Battle of the Ants," by Henry David Thoreau
  • "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," by Zora Neale Hurston
  • " Naturalization," by Charles Dudley Warner
  • "New Year's Eve," by Charles Lamb
  • "Street Haunting: A London Adventure," by Virginia Woolf

Examples and Observations:

  • "The expository essay tries to prove all of its contentions, while the exploratory essay prefers to probe connections. Exploring links between personal life, cultural patterns, and the natural world, this essay leaves space for readers to reflect on their own experience, and invites them into a conversation..." (James J. Farrell, The Nature of College . Milkweed, 2010)
  • "I have in mind a student writing whose model is Montaigne or Byron or DeQuincey or Kenneth Burke or Tom Wolfe...The writing is informed by associational thinking, a repertory of harlequin changes, by the resolution that resolution itself is anathema. This writer writes to see what happens." (William A. Covino, The Art of Wondering: A Revisionist Return to the History of Rhetoric . Boynton/Cook, 1988)

Montaigne on the Origin of the Essays

"Recently I retired to my estates, determined to devote myself as far as I could to spending what little life I have left quietly and privately; it seemed to me then that the greatest favour I could do for my mind was to leave it in total idleness, caring for itself, concerned only with itself, calmly thinking of itself. I hoped it could do that more easily from then on since with the passage of time it had grown mature and put on weight. "But I find—

Variam semper dant otia mentis [Idleness always produces fickle changes of mind]*

—that, on the contrary, it bolted off like a runaway horse, taking far more trouble over itself than it ever did over anyone else; it gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monstrosities, one after another, without order or fitness, that, so as to contemplate at my ease their oddness and their strangeness, I began to keep a record of them, hoping in time to make my mind ashamed of itself." (Michel de Montaigne, "On Idleness." The Complete Essays , trans. by M.A. Screech. Penguin, 1991)

*Note: Montaigne's terms are the technical ones of melancholy madness.

Characteristics of the Exploratory Essay

"In the quotation from Montaigne [above], we have several of the characteristics of the exploratory essay : First, it is personal in subject matter , finding its topic in a subject that is of deep interest to the writer. Second, it is personal in approach , revealing aspects of the writer as the subject at hand illuminates them. The justification for this personal approach rests in part on the assumption that all people are similar; Montaigne implies that, if we look honestly and deeply into any person, we will find truths appropriate to all people. Each of us is humankind in miniature. Third, notice the extended use of figurative language (in this case the simile comparing his mind to a runaway horse). Such language is also characteristic of the exploratory essay." (Steven M. Strang, Writing Exploratory Essays: From Personal to Persuasive . McGraw-Hill, 1995)

  • What Is a Personal Essay (Personal Statement)?
  • Topical Organization Essay
  • What Are the Different Types and Characteristics of Essays?
  • Composition Type: Problem-Solution Essays
  • Topic In Composition and Speech
  • The Difference Between an Article and an Essay
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay or Speech
  • How to Write a Response Paper
  • Expository Essay Genre With Suggested Prompts
  • How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
  • Point of View in Grammar and Composition
  • The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay
  • Definition and Examples of Transitional Paragraphs
  • Book Report: Definition, Guidelines, and Advice

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Organizing an Exploratory Essay

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

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

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 you 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:

  • Introduction of source (title, author, type of media, publisher, publication date, etc.) and why you chose to use it in your exploration
  • Important information you found in the source regarding your problem
  • Why the information is important and dependable in relation to the problem
  • 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.

BibGuru Blog

Be more productive in school

  • Citation Styles

How to write an exploratory essay [Updated 2023]

How to write an exploratory essay

Unlike other types of essays, the exploratory essay does not present a specific argument or support a claim with evidence. Instead, an exploratory essay allows a writer to "explore" a topic and consider tentative conclusions about it. This article covers what you need to know to write a successful exploratory essay.

What is an exploratory essay?

An exploratory essay considers a topic or problem and explores possible solutions. This type of paper also sometimes includes background about how you have approached the topic, as well as information about your research process.

Whereas other types of essays take a concrete stance on an issue and offer extensive support for that stance, the exploratory essay covers how you arrived at an idea and what research materials and methods you used to explore it.

For example, an argumentative essay on expanding public transportation might argue that increasing public transit options improves citizens' quality of life. However, an exploratory essay would provide context for the issue and discuss what data and research you gathered to consider the problem.

What to include in an exploratory essay

Importantly, an exploratory essay does not reach a specific conclusion about a topic. Rather, it explores multiple conclusions and possibilities. So, for the above example, your exploratory essay might include several viewpoints about public transit, including research from urban planners, transportation advocates, and other experts.

Finally, an exploratory essay will include some reflection on your own research and writing process. You might be asked to draw some conclusions about how you could tackle your topic in an argumentative essay or you might reflect on what sources or pieces of evidence were most helpful as you were exploring the topic.

Ultimately, the primary goal of an exploratory essay is to make an inquiry about a topic or problem, investigate the context, and address possible solutions.

What to expect in an exploratory essay assignment

This section discusses what you can expect in an exploratory essay assignment, in terms of length, style, and sources. Instructors may also provide you with an exploratory essay example or an assignment rubric to help you determine if your essay meets the appropriate guidelines .

The expected length of an exploratory essay varies depending on the topic, course subject, and course level. For instance, an exploratory essay assigned in an upper-level sociology course will likely be longer than a similar assignment in an introductory course.

Like other essay types, exploratory essays typically include at least five paragraphs, but most range from a few pages to the length of a full research paper .

While exploratory essays will generally follow academic style guidelines, they differ from other essays because they tend to utilize a more reflective, personal tone. This doesn't mean that you can cast off academic style rules, however.

Rather, think of an exploratory essay as a venue for presenting your topic and methods to a sympathetic and intelligent audience of fellow researchers. Most importantly, make sure that your writing is clear, correct, and concise.

As an exploration of your approach to a topic, an exploratory essay will necessarily incorporate research material. As a result, you should expect to include a bibliography or references page with your essay. This page will list both the sources that you cite in your essay, as well as any sources that you may have consulted during your research process.

The citation style of your essay's bibliography will vary based on the subject of the course. For example, an exploratory essay for a sociology class will probably adhere to APA style , while an essay in a history class might use Chicago style .

Exploratory essay outline and format

An exploratory essay utilizes the same basic structure that you'll find in other essays. It includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction sets up the context for your topic, addresses why that topic is worthy of study, and states your primary research question(s).

The body paragraphs cover the research that you've conducted and often include overviews of the sources that you've consulted. The conclusion returns to your research question and considers possible solutions.

  • Introduction

The introduction of an exploratory essay functions as an overview. In this section, you should provide context for your topic, explain why the topic is important, and state your research question:

  • Context includes general information about the topic. This part of the introduction may also outline, or signpost, what the rest of the paper will cover.
  • Topic importance helps readers "buy in" to your research. A few sentences that address the question, "so what?" will enable you to situate your research within an ongoing debate.
  • The last part of of your introduction should clearly state your research question. It's okay to have more than one, depending on the assignment.

If you were writing an exploratory essay on public transportation, you might start by briefly introducing the recent history of public transit debates. Next, you could explain that public transportation research is important because it has a concrete impact on our daily lives. Finally, you might end your introduction by articulating your primary research questions.

While some individuals may choose not to utilize public transportation, decisions to expand or alter public transit systems affect the lives of all. As a result of my preliminary research, I became interested in exploring whether public transportation systems improve citizens' quality of life. In particular, does public transit only improve conditions for those who regularly use these systems? Or, do improvements in public transportation positively impact the quality of life for all individuals within a given city or region? The remainder of this essay explores the research around these questions and considers some possible conclusions.

Body paragraphs

The body paragraphs of an exploratory essay discuss the research process that you used to explore your topic. This section highlights the sources that you found most useful and explains why they are important to the debate.

You might also use the body paragraphs to address how individual resources changed your thinking about your topic. Most exploratory essays will have several body paragraphs.

One source that was especially useful to my research was a 2016 study by Richard J. Lee and Ipek N. Sener that considers the intersections between transportation planning and quality of life . They argue that, while planners have consistently addressed physical health and well-being in transportation plans, they have not necessarily factored in how mental and social health contributes to quality of life. Put differently, transportation planning has traditionally utilized a limited definition of quality of life and this has necessarily impacted data on the relationship between public transit and quality of life. This resource helped me to broaden my conception of quality of life to include all aspects of human health. It also enabled me to better understand the stakeholders involved in transportation decisions.

Your conclusion should return to the research question stated in your introduction. What are some possible solutions to your questions, based on the sources that you highlighted in your essay? While you shouldn't include new information in your conclusion, you can discuss additional questions that arose as you were conducting your research.

In my introduction, I asked whether public transit improves quality of life for all, not simply for users of public transportation. My research demonstrates that there are strong connections between public transportation and quality of life, but that researchers differ as to how quality of life is defined. Many conclude that public transit improves citizens' lives, but it is still not clear how public transit decisions affect non-users, since few studies have focused on this distinct group. As a result, I believe that more research is needed to answer the research questions that I posed above.

Frequently Asked Questions about exploratory essays

You should begin an exploratory essay by introducing the context for your topic, explaining the topic's importance, and outlining your original research question.

Like other types of essays, the exploratory essay has three primary parts:

Although an exploratory essay does not make a specific argument, your research question technically serves as your thesis.

Yes, you can use "I" throughout your paper. An exploratory essay is meant to explore your own research process, so a first-person perspective is appropriate.

You should end your exploratory essay with a succinct conclusion that returns to your research question and considers possible answers. You can also end by highlighting further questions you may have about your research.

How to write an argumentative essay

Make your life easier with our productivity and writing resources.

For students and teachers.


  • Essay Guides
  • Main Academic Essays
  • Exploratory Essay: Definition, Outline & Examples
  • Speech Topics
  • Basics of Essay Writing
  • Essay Topics
  • Other Essays
  • Research Paper Topics
  • Basics of Research Paper Writing
  • Miscellaneous
  • Chicago/ Turabian
  • Data & Statistics
  • Methodology
  • Admission Writing Tips
  • Admission Advice
  • Other Guides
  • Student Life
  • Studying Tips
  • Understanding Plagiarism
  • Academic Writing Tips
  • Basics of Dissertation & Thesis Writing


  • Research Paper Guides
  • Formatting Guides
  • Basics of Research Process
  • Admission Guides
  • Dissertation & Thesis Guides

Exploratory Essay: Definition, Outline & Examples

Exploratory Essay

Table of contents


Use our free Readability checker

You may probably ask yourself a question like, “What is exploratory writing?” An exploratory essay displays people's shared understanding of a subject while laying forth their points of view on it. You must reflect deeply to write a fantastic essay. Although proof of answers is not required for an exploratory essay, various rules must be followed. Also, a plethora of topics can be investigated for exploratory essays, including business, education, psychology, etc. They can be anything from a lengthy research report to a brief paper. In this article, we will discuss exploratory essay samples, outline, format, and tips on how to write this paper. 

What Is an Exploratory Essay: Definition

An exploratory essay is defined as a writing type where the author examines potential solutions to an issue. Simply put, it provides an overview of issues and draws some early judgments about the proposed solution. Exploratory essays allow you to fully comprehend a subject without worrying about being right or wrong. Your principal objective when preparing this essay is to undertake a thorough investigation first, then think about and assess a few distinct viewpoints on a specific topic. These papers are used in commercial settings and colleges. Studying a minimum of three points helps you grasp the problem correctly in finding the best answer. Exploration essays aim to investigate the subject critically and then offer your readers the research results. Based on its objective, it can take many forms. For instance, a sociology review of literature is an illustration of an exploratory essay.

Peculiarities of Exploratory Writing

Exploratory essay writing is distinct from other types of essays. You will be writing to learn about an issue and find a solution to the matter presented. An exploratory paper is a type of writing that discusses how you arrive at an idea. It also sheds some light on approaches used to examine it, for instance, convincing readers of your standpoint. Conversely, an exploratory paper begins without a firm perspective. While you might support one idea above others, you will not conclude the paper with a clear solution. Instead, it considers a range of findings and alternatives you must know.

Exploratory Essay Outline

We will discuss how crucial it is to generate an outline for exploratory essay. Many overlook this stage because they want to finish writing quickly. Avoid making this error since it causes huge problems. You are ready to start as soon as you design an exploratory essay outline example. The entire writing procedure can be streamlined simply because you already understand the objectives and where to place your quotations.  In this context, outlines also give you a perspective on the next steps to take and divide your work into manageable parts. These are helpful for those who detest spending a significant amount of time thinking and writing as they can get more detail on key areas and then pause. Lastly, creating an outline will spare you time since your essay will be straightforward, accurate, and uncomplicated. Your lecturer may value the care placed into your work arrangement. The exploratory essay outline format is as follows:

The opening section (introduction and thesis statement)

  • Present your subject and its significance.
  • Provide background information.
  • State a thesis statement.

Body paragraph 1

  • Explain your source, including the author and publication date.

Body paragraph 2

  • Discuss crucial information about your issue from the source.
  • Explain why the information is valuable.

Body paragraph 3

  • Write a reflection on how the material benefited you, changed the way you thought about the issue, or even did not meet your goals.

Last section (conclusion)

  • Reintroduce your topic.
  • Outline some potential solutions.

How to Write an Exploratory Essay

Preparing an exploratory essay assignment is simple and perceived differently from other essays. Here are five steps on how to write exploratory essay.

Step 1: Select a topic

Give prefenrence to contentious exploratory essay topics with various opposing viewpoints that can be investigated. Picking a subject with insufficient evidence or one that merely offers a "for" or "against" argument is not recommended. Begin with a more general topic. An example of a good topic would be "Impact of digital platforms on family and group values."

Step 2: Select three points

Choose a minimum of three viewpoints in the body paragraphs to examine in your essay after researching the subject. When undertaking research, consider several ideas related to the topic and pinpoint arguments for or against it. Note that an exploration essay is different from a persuasive essay. An exploration essay seeks to find and analyze numerous points of view on a particular topic. This contrasts with outlining the different sides of a topic and supporting one aspect over another.

Step 3: Decide on the readers

Decide on your target audience and the restrictions you might encounter during this process. These may encompass anything that reveals why specific attributes, ideas, and situations lead people to uphold their views.

Step 4: Answer questions

Respond to the inquiries raised by the research body. Determine how to address any concerns the work may raise.

Step 5: Commence writing

Finally, begin writing and use a sample exploratory essay for reference. In addition, make sure that you adhere to the steps discussed above to make your exploratory essay epic.

Exploratory Essay Introduction

Understanding how to start off an explanatory essay is vital before writing. The exploratory essay introduction paragraph lays background information on your issue and its significance. It also outlines the study questions. This section could summarize aspects covered in the remaining part of your essay and the importance of the topic, which inspires readers to trust your study. Do this by including a few phrases that answer the "so what?" query. To increase your readers' interest and engross them, begin your introduction with an attention grabber. This may be a claim predicated on your assessments of a situation or anything that would make clear why the issue is important to you. Expand on the hook by addressing some underlying causal factors of the issue if your theme permits it. Your main claim should be explicitly stated in the final section of your introduction.

Exploratory Essay Thesis Statement

The essay's central idea needs to be briefly summarized in the exploratory essay thesis statement. Use it in explaining its significance among viewers. Mapping out your facts is crucial when creating an effective thesis. In an exploration essay, you may only raise and explore questions about a subject. Choose the principal subject for your paper, which should be related to the thesis. There are numerous exploratory essay thesis examples. Assuming your topic is "How Can Technology be Improved in Schools?" The exploratory thesis statement would be:

Technology advancements significantly impact how individuals are educated and their quality of life. From calculators, which made math simple, to text editors, which revolutionized how research papers are produced and delivered. Yet, more advanced technology should be adopted to increase interactivity and improve overall school appointment.

Exploratory Essay Body

Exploratory essay structure also encompasses the body. An overriding aim of exploratory essay body paragraph is to offer facts and arguments in favor of your thesis. Begin by first explaining why you opted to pursue the initial idea that came to your mind. Next, discuss the form of materials you used and data you gleaned from them. Explore the value of researched data depending on the subject matter and present your exposition. Describe how the answer and resources you used changed your perspective on the issue. If possible, explain how it pointed you in a different path. After that, use a transition to help readers move from one section to the next. For all the following points and references, maintain this fundamental format. The second section of the body complements the initial section by providing space for expressing other points of view. It seeks to justify why people see things from their own perspective.

Exploratory Essay Conclusion

Conclude an exploratory essay by condensing the research questions, suggested solutions, and views you picked up along the way. First, reaffirm your thesis statement. This strengthens your argument and draws the reader's focus directly to the central idea. Further, summarize three supporting arguments you discussed in the body and briefly recap their relevance. This will demonstrate that you have convincingly supported your exploratory thesis, strengthening your work. Your ending must not contain brand-new information, but you can discuss new issues as you study. You may also share your thoughts and why more research should be conducted. It is a great idea to conclude by urging your viewers to take action.

Exploratory Essay Format

There are global formatting guidelines that are involved in producing high-quality papers. These standards have varied characteristics and adhere to guidelines by major corporations. To format an exploratory essay, you should utilize APA, Chicago, or MLA styles. The primary goal of these formatting styles is to disseminate knowledge to the public in the most effective manner possible. For APA, maintain uniform margins on the page's right, left, bottom, and top. Utilize it for Education, Psychology, and Sciences. Including an abstract in an example of an exploratory essay is one component of APA. MLA format requires you to leave one-inch margins across the paper. It is used for disciplines like Humanities . Each paragraph's initial word should be indented. Chicago style is widely utilized in the disciplines of History and Art. The texts should be double-spaced, and paragraphs indented by 0.5 inches.

Exploratory Essay Examples

To make you comprehend the topic better, we have prepared one of the great exploratory essay examples that will give you an overall idea of what we have discussed in this article. Feel free to download the available materials or use a short exploratory essay sample attached below as a source for inspiration. We hope this reference will help you organize your thoughts, give direction for research, and create an outstanding essay.


Liked examples? Did you know that you can place an essay order at StudyCrumb and get a custom paper written according to your instructions? All you need is to provide us with your requirements.

Exploratory Writing Proofreading Checklist

A checklist helps learners comprehend the abilities required for preparing essays. It demonstrates an easy method for a hesitant writer to incorporate the essential components. Below is a simple checklist used in preparing an exploratory draft.

Extra Tips on Writing an Exploratory Paper

Writing an exploratory paper is not a walk in the park. You may require specific valuable tips to get started. For instance, consider the paper's length, style, and source to use. Here are a few extra tips to get started.

  • Conduct detailed research on the topic Whatever your intentions for writing an exploratory paper are, research is crucial. Online resources have a ton of written information. Check out a variety of sources and choose those that are most pertinent to your work.
  • Begin early Stop delaying your task. You have a limited amount of time to complete all the appropriate steps. So, get a head start to have enough time to produce a good paper.
  • Design an outline Creating an outline is crucial since it ensures you cover all information that needs to be included in your exploratory writing.
  • Take notes At the conclusion of your research, you will need to review your notes. Reorganize points logically and keep in mind that all claims must have insightful transitions. This will guarantee easy material flow and ensure your work is more understandable.
  • Proofread your work It is okay to make errors in your work, hence, give yourself enough time to edit your paper. Check that you have done it correctly and it is coherent. Furthermore, believe in your abilities to make it work.

Final Thoughts on Exploration Essay

Exploratory essays provide a deeper understanding of an issue. They explain its causative factors, effects on readers, and potential solutions. To put it differently, an exploratory essay sheds some light on the subject and examines initial findings. Notably, learners ought to comprehend how to write an exploratory paper. Do not hesitate to read through exploratory writing examples. You must delve as deeply as you can into the issue. Nevertheless, it would help if you did not try to influence the audience to engage with your viewpoint. The key is to impartially convey a fact and response so that readers can understand what the paper entails.


Delegate this tedious task to professionals. Our college essay writers have extensive experience in preparing high-quality papers on a range of topics. Leave your instructions and have an essay done by one of our experts.

FAQ About Exploratory Essays

1. what is the purpose of an exploratory essay.

An exploratory essay asks you to consider and respond to various ideas instead of a single opinion. It is more concerned with a subject matter instead of a thesis, implying that the paper keeps track of your research activities and subsequent thoughts. The essay answers questions on specific content and rhetorical queries about potential solutions to the situation.

2. What is the difference between an exploratory essay and argumentative essay?

Argument papers look into a particular perspective, while exploratory essays clarify several points. Some self-reflection on your writing process may be included in the exploratory essay. In an argumentative essay, you may be requested to formulate findings on how to approach your subject. You may also consider proofs and links that were useful during the research investigation.

4. Can I use the first person in an exploratory essay?

A first-person viewpoint is acceptable because an exploratory essay should discuss your research procedure. As a basic rule, utilizing first-person pronouns is critical. When writing an exploratory essay, it makes the article less professional than a third-person pronoun. This makes the work more neutral in style. Exploratory writing demands subjective judgments; thus, a first-person tone is ideal.

3. How to start an exploratory essay?

To begin an exploratory essay, you need to introduce the background of your issue. Additionally, discuss its significance, and lay out your primary research query. This academic work is largely based on reliable information. Be careful to take down all the pertinent specifics from your sources and incorporate them as supporting materials in your work.


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.

You may also like


  • checkbox Is the opening sentence intriguing? Does it encourage you to read more?
  • checkbox Does the transition between the body paragraphs make sense?
  • checkbox Does language used, paper length, and sentence arrangement require any changes?
  • checkbox Is the title of the essay fascinating and relevant?
  • checkbox Have you used enough sources to underpin your arguments?
  • checkbox Do you follow the design suggestions given by your professor (such as MLA, Chicago, and APA paper format )?

Drafting an exploratory essay

Exploratory papers are NOT argument papers. An exploratory assignment is usually given so that students find ways to branch out in a specific topic without taking a stance. Exploratory papers can range from a full research paper to a short essay.


The introduction should do several things for the reader:

Set context – this is where the author can begin to give general background information and set up a “map” of what the paper will discuss.

State importance – the introduction should also explain why the topic is important, it should compel the audience to read further and create interest in the topic.

State the question or topic of exploration – this can be one or several sentences or questions that states what the author is interested in finding out, why, and how they intend to do it.

An acceptable general structure for exploratory papers is given below:

Each paragraph or section should explain what source was used, say why it was chosen, include information found using the source, explain why the information is important, and reflect on the source and its information.

This format is meant as a basic outline and does not need to be repeated exactly the same way for every source.

The conclusion is very similar to the introduction in that it gives a general overview of what has been discussed. This section also ties up any loose ends not confronted in the body of the paper. Many times, the question is restated in the conclusion for reinforcement.

Exploratory Essay

6 July 2023

last updated

This article discusses the exploratory essay type by looking into its key features. Basically, people need to learn what is an exploratory essay to write papers correctly. Apart from the introduction and conclusion parts, the paper has a section that defines an exploratory essay and another that discusses some important aspects. In turn, the last part, before the conclusion, distinguishes an exploratory essay from other types of essays.

Main Aspects

One of the essential elements in essay writing is the development of a thesis statement . Basically, the main claim becomes the foundation upon which the writer builds the argument throughout the paper. However, in an exploratory essay, a writer’s mission is to investigate a phenomenon, explain why it exists, and draw some preliminary conclusions on how it might be solved.

Exploratory essay

Definition of an Exploratory Essay

In essence, an exploratory essay, like a research paper , is a writer’s retrospective of the writing and thinking processes as a person investigates a theme. For instance, this type of essay describes when, how, and why the writer undertook certain kinds of research work. As such, introspection and reflection on one’s thinking process are essential activities in exploratory writing. An exploratory essay flows just like most other types of essays . As a result, the key features are an introductory part, body paragraphs, and a concluding section.

Introduction Part

Concerning the introduction, the writer outlines the phenomenon that the person is investigating and the main objective of doing so. In this case, the writer offers a brief discussion about some of the causes of the phenomenon, the people and institutions affected, and some possible solutions. Hence, the person also gives a brief overview of some of the researched sources that helped with the investigation.

Body Paragraphs in an Exploratory Essay

In the body paragraphs of an exploratory essay, writers discuss the investigation process that they followed in researching the phenomenon – its causes and the people or institutions affected. Basically, the information in the paragraphs should include an introduction of the source (such as the title and author) and why it is vital in the inquiry. Also, it should include essential information the writer found helpful to the inquiry. In this case, the text should indicate the importance and validity of the information to the inquiry. Lastly, the content should cover a brief personal introspection on how the source was helpful, such as giving the writer a new perspective on the phenomenon.

The conclusion is the last part of an exploratory essay where the writer restates the phenomenon they investigated. For instance, the authors outline some of the possible causes, review the audience or others affected, and highlight some possible solutions. Also, writers discuss some lingering questions that remain after investigating the phenomenon. Basically, people explain why they think these questions are essential. In their concluding remarks, the writer indicates the need for further research work to find answers to those questions.

The Difference With Other Types of Essay

The main difference between an exploratory essay and other types of essays is that the former does not try to convince a reader of the validity of a thesis. Instead, it delves into a discussion about a phenomenon. For example, the body paragraphs of an argumentative essay exist to strengthen or confirm the thesis claim. In contrast, such essays explain the causes and impacts of the phenomenon.

Summing Up on an Exploratory Essay

Exploratory essays help to broaden insight about a problem, outlining the likely causes, impacts on the audience, and possible solutions. Most types of essays involve a writer trying to convince an audience about a thesis. However, an exploratory essay investigates a matter and highlights some preliminary conclusions.

  • Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar

A Platform for Diverse Voices

What Is an Exploratory Essay and How Is It Structured?

August 4, 2022 by admin

Submitted by Admin

Although an exploratory essay, more or less, follows the same structure and outline as other types of essays, they differ in one fundamental aspect that pretty much puts them into their own category: they don’t aim to convince or persuade readers on a particular subject. Instead, their ultimate goal is to inform the readers about the topic by examining it from different angles.

Read to the end of this article for further elaboration on what precisely an exploratory essay is and how you can write one that is sound in structure and rich in substance.

What Constitutes an Exploratory Essay?

At its core, an exploratory essay is an educated attempt at answering an open-ended question. It situates the writer in a position of inquiry and exploration rather than a firm stance on a subject. In an exploratory essay, you invite the reader into your internal thought process and lay out different and often competing perspectives on an issue or topic in order to better understand it without having to worry about being right or wrong. It is akin to thinking out loud and working through a problem but in a more organized and well-processed manner.

As opposed to an argumentative essay in which you are trying to get your reader to see your viewpoint, you start an exploratory essay without having a strong opinion or solution in mind. While you may end up favoring one answer among multiple alternatives, you will still not be in a position to conclude the essay with a definite answer, solution, or viewpoint.

A robust exploratory essay, as written by a professional paper writing service , focuses on a topic that is relevant and interesting to its audience and addresses something that people have different takes on, something non-factual and nuanced in nature. Such an essay assumes that the audience is in the dark just as much. And it empowers both the writer and the audience to make a more informed decision on the subject upon reading it.

How Is an Exploratory Essay Structured?

The exploratory essay is typically organized in a basic three-part format, which includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. In the introduction, you bring forward the issue or topic you are about to explore and provide a brief explanation as to why it matters enough to warrant an essay. The body contains paragraphs dedicated to your research process, the different possible and presentable solutions you have discovered over the course of your research, and the sources you consulted to arrive at those potential answers. And the conclusion presents an overview of the issue that prompted the study, reviews the different viable talking points explored in the body, and ties up loose ends.

How to Write the Introduction

The purpose of an introduction in an essay of any type is to pique the reader’s interest, set the context and give background information about the topic that is going to be discussed, and outline a clear thesis. The introduction in an exploratory essay consists of the same three sections. However, instead of a standard thesis that posits a statement, the writer asks a research question that will guide the reader to the exploration in the following paragraphs.

Start with a hook or an attention device to get your readers interested enough to want to know more. It can be a statement based on your personal observations of the matter or something that would help the reader see why you care about it. If your topic allows for it, discuss some of the root causes and effects of the problem to build on the hook, and end the introduction by stating the question(s) or subject of exploration and how you intend to approach it.

How to Write the Body

The body’s main function is to provide supporting evidence and arguments to back up the thesis posited in the introduction. In an exploratory essay, you should discuss the steps you took in your inquiry process, typically in a sequential manner.

Start with the first viewpoint or solution you thought of and explain why you chose to explore it. Then proceed to the sources you used and the information obtained from them. Discuss the importance of the found information in relation to the topic issue, and provide your personal analysis. Explain how the solution and the sources consulted helped you view the problem in a new light and if they led you in a new direction. Then end each segment with a transition to prepare the reader to segue into the next part. Repeat this basic format for all the other arguments and sources that follow.

How to Write the Conclusion

In an exploratory essay, you should briefly mention the research question and conclude by reflecting on the things you have covered, highlighting some plausible solutions and perspectives you learned in the process.

If there are questions that remain unanswered, they can be restated along with the things that should be done to further progress towards better solutions.

exploratory essay meaning

How to Write an Exploratory Essay

How to Write an Exploratory Essay at SolidEssay.com

What is an Exploratory Essay?

An exploratory essay gives the writer the privilege to explore while writing. In this type of essay, you do not have to make your own thesis, raise an argument, or prove it. Writing an exploratory essay is actually one of the most fun things to write among the other types of essays as you are free to explore your subject matter. In an exploratory essay, also called an investigateve essay, you no longer have to gather some evidences to support a thesis statement. In other words, all you have to do is to explore and not prove. Interesting, right? But then again, just like any other forms of writings, there are still specific guidelines to follow. So, check out a few tips below on how to write an exploratory essay.

Exploratory Writing Guidelines

  • When working on an exploratory paper, you can write about anything and everything. You can start with one topic and cover another one as you move and end your essay by discussing something different. Thus, you can come up with new ideas as you go through the essay.  
  • An investigative essay requires you to think as you do the writing. Your intention here is not to stick with a single idea, but rather explore a range of components and aspects of what you are talking about. In other words, an exploratory essay has a wider scope.  
  • Writing an exploratory essay is somewhat challenging. As you are free to move from one topic to another, a common theme is still necessary. So, it is not just about rambling random topics at once. You should make sure that your essay makes sense and that your readers will not be confused and will get your point.  
  • Usually, an exploratory paper begins with an unknown fact or a question. In the introduction, focus on explaining the said question. You can then examine the different aspects of the question in the body paragraphs. So, it is important to gather different opinions and explore the different angles of your subject. While in the conclusion, you should present a possible answer or discuss a possible solution to the question.  
  • In exploratory writing, you don’t need to have a clear thesis statement. Your goal is to make the readers follow the flow of your thoughts and positions based on your subject matter, and come up with the same conclusion.  
  • Exploratory essays only aim to answer all the possible questions made by the author and not to present any argument.

Exploratory Essay Outline: major details

Like most essays, an exploratory essay outline has three main parts: introduction, body and conclusion. When writing your exploratory essay, you need to ensure all these areas are appropriately covered with the relevant information. Knowing what to put in each section is the first part of writing a good exploratory essay.

Introduction – Here you define the key terms in your subject matter and describe the issues at hand. In so doing, you give your reader a preview of what to expect and a reason to keep on reading. Remember to introduce your topic in a way that grabs your reader’s attention or else they won’t continue to read.

Body – This section should contain the main points for or against your theory or viewpoint of the given exploratory essay topic. Make sure you include examples, facts, figures and any information required to make your points valid and understood.

Conclusion – This is where you summarize the issue, its main points and your final thoughts on the subject matter.

Exploratory Essay Topics

Exploratory essay topics require a writer to look at all viewpoints of the given subject matter and make a logical argument to prove his/her theory or stance. Good topics for exploratory essay usually have at least two arguable viewpoints, require a lot of research and must include facts and figures to help the reader understand each viewpoint and prove the writer’s case.

Here is a list of 50 exploratory essay topics for you to review when writing your next essay.

  • What impact does religion have over parenting and family life?
  • Why should men and women in the same job be paid equally?
  • What are the implications of marrying into a different faith?
  • What is the appropriate age for a girl to start wearing makeup?
  • How are male self-esteem issues the same or different from female self-esteem issues?
  • What impact does divorce or separation have on the children involved?
  • Can prisoners be rehabilitated with music, literature or art?
  • What is the ideal age to get married?
  • Should there be a limit on the use of technology in schools?
  • What is the impact of improper plastic disposal on the environment?
  • What impact does political affiliation have over parenting and family life?
  • What is the impact of obesity on the health of a nation?
  • Is there any harm in parents allowing prolonged use of tablets in toddlers?
  • Explore and describe where procrastination can result in a positive outcome.
  • Does religion play a role in a healthy and long-lasting marriage?
  • With the amount of time spent looking at our tablets, mobile phones and computer screens, will our eyesight suffer?
  • What are the possible implications of prolonged consumption of GMO foods?
  • How can teen pregnancy be eradicated?
  • Gun violence can be controlled/reduced with more stringent gun control rules and regulations.
  • With the invention of selfies, selfies sticks and the infatuation self-created by social media, are we creating a narcissistic society?
  • Does having sex before the marriage hurt or help it?
  • Is the traditional cinema going to die a horrible death like the drive-in cinema?
  • Is home-schooling better than traditional schooling?
  • Who is to be blamed for the high cost of living?
  • Do men and women look for the same thing in a relationship?
  • What are the ethical challenges in anonymous sperm and egg donations?
  • What are the positive outcomes of a dictatorship?
  • What contributes to a child being “troubled” and turning to a life of crime?
  • Are fast food restaurants the culprits in the rising incidences of obesity?
  • Should food and beverage companies be blamed for childhood obesity?
  • How can the traditional taxi companies fight against Uber?
  • What are the implications of “an eye for an eye”?
  • How helpful and useful are recycling programs?
  • Whose responsibility is it to stop increasing crime rates?
  • What are the ethical challenges in cloning humans and animals?
  • What are the ethical considerations in allowing parents to determine their children’s genetic traits and characteristics?
  • How has the educational system evolved positively and what can be done to continue and enhance this?
  • Does class ranking affect children negatively?
  • Men are mediocre caregivers compared to women.
  • Will teachers be replaced by computers in the future?
  • What are the pros and cons of an interracial marriage?
  • Which sex is more likely to cheat: men or women?
  • What are the pros and cons of polygamy?
  • Is nanotechnology safe? How can we be sure?

How can social media be used to positively impact the outcome of classroom learning?

  • Whose job is it to tackle cyber bullying?
  • Alcohol is a dangerous drug that should be regulated and monitored.
  • Genetically modified foods are the future of farming.
  • If organic foods are healthier, why not produce only them?
  • At what age should you allow your child to drink coffee? 

Here is a good exploratory essay example for you to review before writing your next essay.


Social media statistics and definition

Did you know that 90% of young adults use social media? A study done by Pew Research Centre in 2015 reported this and that as much as 82% of these young adults were on Facebook (Team, 2017). While we know that social media is widely used for socializing and recreation, have you ever stopped thinking how it can be used to enhance the classroom experience?

Social media is defined as online sites where people create, connect and share audio, visual and written content (Ronan, 2017). Imagine the possibilities of what this can do when applied to the classroom setting! Some benefits of using social media to aid education include increased accessibility and communication between students and teachers, ease of sharing relevant materials (especially information researched and discovered while on the go), and improved collaboration on group projects and assignments.

Uses of social media in the classroom

Students are already using social media for several hours of their day so it would be easy to incorporate education into this. Not only will it help them to learn better, but it will also make learning fun! Think about these ways in which social media can enhance learning and make it more enjoyable.

  • Students are already on Facebook for several hours daily so it is a guaranteed way to connect with and share relevant classroom information with them. Open a Facebook Group for the class and encourage them to join so that they do not miss important information to be shared throughout the course.
  • Blogs are a great way for literature and art students to express themselves. This is also a great medium for classes where a journal is required for the period of the course.
  • YouTube, Skype and Facebook Live are all good tools for teleconferences or conducting presentations with speakers who can’t physically be present in the classroom.
  • Twitter is one of those platforms that make learning fun. Create hashtags for class discussions and have students use the hashtag when sharing information about that topic. Even better, create a class hashtag and have them use it when posting any content about the class.
  • Instagram and Pinterest are great channels for photography students (and I’m sure this goes without saying!) Use these to share great works of art as well as those of the students in the class.

Final words on social media use in the classroom

Cell phone, tablet and laptop use in the classroom can be a source of distraction for students. But when channelled properly and used appropriately, these tools can make education fun, and learning easier. All the popularly used social networks can be exploited as classroom tools to positively impact learning. They make teaching easier by improving the accessibility and communication between teacher and students; and they make learning fun by helping students share information in a light-hearted way, while improving communication and collaboration during group projects and assignments. When considering the use of social media for your classroom, keep these positives in mind and unlock their educational potential for great results.

Ronan, A. (2017, July 22). 6 Ways Social Media Can Change Your Classroom. Retrieved from Edudemic - Connecting education and technology: http://www.edudemic.com/twitter-college-lecture/

Team, M. L. (2017, July 22). Modo Labs Blog. Retrieved from Modo Labs: https://www.modolabs.com/blog-post/social-media-use-among-college-students-and-teens-whats-in-whats-out-and-why/

As you can see, an exploratory essay is one of the easiest and most interesting types of essays. It doesn’t even require you to have a special skill before you can write your own. All it takes is just a little research, a broad imagination, and the ability to think. So have fun learning how to write an exploratory essay.

Need help with exploratory writing? 

Order Paper

Our guarantees, customer feedback.

Get 20% off! First order discount. Order Now

© 2023 SolidEssay. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Data Researchers Network

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy


  • A Research Guide
  • Writing Guide
  • Essay Writing

How to Write an Exploratory Essay

  • What Is an exploratory essay
  • How to start
  • What is particular
  • Step-by-step Writing Guide
  • What is a good topic
  • Exploratory essay format
  • Exploratory essay example

What Is an Exploratory Essay?

  • An introduction;
  • The body paragraphs;
  • The conclusion.
  • A brief presentation of the source material and why you selected it for your exploratory essay.
  • Relevant or important information that you’ve uncovered relating to your problem.
  • Why the information that you’ve uncovered is essential and relatable?
  • A few personal introspects on how the source assisted you and enabled you to think differently about the problem. Moreover, tell shortly what you had expected and point you in a new direction.

How to Start an Exploratory Essay?

What’s particular about an exploratory essay, what makes exploratory essays different, step-by-step writing guide: how to write outstanding exploratory essay, step 1. investigate the topic, collect data, and write down all the necessary information, step 2. write a plan, step 3. write an exploratory essay, step 4: check citations and formatting, step 5: reread and edit your finished exploratory essay, what’s a good topic for an exploratory essay.

  • Not solved;
  • Not something that you could easily locate the answer to;
  • Something that you can find at least three different views on;
  • Interesting to people, at present;
  • Linked to a weighted issue.

What are weighted issues?

Exploratory essay format, introduction to the exploratory essay.

  • You must grab (and hold) the reader’s attention and garner interest in the problem.
  • You must ensure the reader understands the problem and its importance.
  • You must introduce the issue – typically at the end of the introduction.

Ideas for an introduction:

  • Share a real scenario;
  • Disclose statistics;
  • Make up a story – but let the audience know it is fictional;
  • Describe a situation or scene;
  • Explain a standard situation;
  • Talk about why the argument is important;
  • Give a brief history of the concept;
  • List out problems;
  • Offer several examples of this issue;
  • Ask multiple questions;
  • Use interviews and relevant answers.
  • Finish the story.
  • Add any additional or last-minute evidence that you believe is the most compelling.
  • Share your point of view with your audience.
  • If you are unsure what you think, then say that and explain which points you think are the most important.
  • Encourage the reader to make their own decision.
  • Outline the main elements that should be considered when making decisions about the question: What is important? What isn’t?

Exploratory Essay Example

aside icon

Receive paper in 3 Hours!

  • Choose the number of pages.
  • Select your deadline.
  • Complete your order.

Number of Pages

550 words (double spaced)

Deadline: 10 days left

By clicking "Log In", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy . We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

Sign Up for your FREE account


  1. Exploratory Essay: Definition, Structure, and Other Key Features

    exploratory essay meaning

  2. How to Write an Exploratory Essay Writing Help

    exploratory essay meaning

  3. Top-Notch Exploratory Essay Example to Use for Free

    exploratory essay meaning

  4. Exploratory Essay

    exploratory essay meaning

  5. Exploratory essay topics for Students

    exploratory essay meaning

  6. essay: Exploratory Essay Definition

    exploratory essay meaning


  1. Exploratory data analysis

  2. Exploratory 2023 Highlights

  3. Troubleshooting and Exploratory Data Analysis

  4. Different types of Essays.The Essay, Forms of Prose.Forms of English Literature.🇮🇳👍

  5. Essay On Integrity With Easy Language In English

  6. Preprocessing: Exploratory Data Analysis


  1. What Is Exploratory Play?

    Exploratory play is when children use their senses of smell, taste and touch to explore and discover the texture and function of things around them. This form of play allows them to comprehend new experiences.

  2. What Is a General Statement in an Essay?

    An essay’s general statement is a broad introduction to the paper’s topic. For example, a persuasive essay aimed at convincing the reader to take action against global warming might begin with a brief description of what climate change mean...

  3. What Is an Informative Essay?

    An informative essay is any type of essay that has the goal of informing or educating an audience. By definition, it is not used to persuade or to give one’s personal beliefs on a subject.

  4. Exploratory Essay Definition and Examples

    An exploratory essay is a short work of nonfiction in which a writer examines an idea without necessarily attempting to back up a claim or

  5. Organizing an Exploratory Essay

    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

  6. How to write an exploratory essay [Updated 2023]

    An exploratory essay considers a topic or problem and explores possible solutions. This type of paper also sometimes includes background about

  7. How to Write an Exploratory Essay: Guide With Examples

    An overriding aim of exploratory essay body paragraph is to offer facts and arguments in favor of your thesis. Begin by first explaining why you

  8. Drafting an Exploratory Essay

    Exploratory papers can range from a full research paper to a short essay. Introduction. The introduction should do several things for the reader: Set context –

  9. Exploratory Essay: Definition, Structure, and Other Key Features

    The main difference between an exploratory essay and other types of essays is that the former does not try to convince a reader of the validity of a thesis.

  10. What Is an Exploratory Essay and How Is It Structured?

    What Constitutes an Exploratory Essay? At its core, an exploratory essay is an educated attempt at answering an open-ended question. It situates

  11. How to Write an Exploratory Essay

    An exploratory essay gives the writer the privilege to explore while writing. In this type of essay, you do not have to make your own thesis, raise an argument

  12. How to Write an Exploratory Essay

    The objective of an exploratory essay is to take an objective stance when approaching a topic. The writer must remain neutral. Instead of trying

  13. How to Write an Exploratory Essay With Sample Papers

    Exploratory essays look at several points of view in a neutral way. Rather than trying to solve the problem, this sort of paper explores the

  14. Difference Between Argumentative and Exploratory Essays

    ○ What is an exploratory essay and what does it contain? ○ Definition: An essay that gathers information about a certain topic and explains that.