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Organizing an Exploratory Essay

Summary:

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:

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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.

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