What should you know before starting an exploratory essay?

There are many different types of essays but most are really all about answering a question as opposed to making a statement such as in a thesis statement. The whole aim of an exploratory essay is to explore an issue. It's not so much about you arguing the case as it is about you exploring an issue. And an exploratory essay is really an educational essay where you, the writer, are educated.

It is most important before you start writing an exploratory essay that you understand this fundamental principle. Look upon writing an exploratory essay as a journey. You have a topic and your goal is to research the topic and discover as much information as possible about it. Only then do you go about writing your exploratory essay.

Tell us about your research

When you write an exploratory essay you are acting like a diarist. You are telling us, the reader, about your activities in researching the subject and just as importantly, what you have discovered from your exploratory activities. From your exploration will come an issue or issues which have seen the development of questions. So not only are you telling us about the question or questions you uncovered in your exploration, your essay will tell us what answer or answers you came up with. You are making a report.

Fence sitting is not permitted when writing an exploratory essay. You have to tell us both sides of the issue and which of these sides you have chosen to support. You're not there to be a flag waver for one side or the other. You are there to examine all the possibilities and then choose the one which you believe to be true. You report on your exploration in the form of your exploratory essay.

Exploratory essays are dominated by contradictory or contrasting opinions. You need to be able to see both sides of the argument, even more than two if that situation exists. And the skill of your writing in creating an exploratory essay is telling us, the reader, what you have discovered. You will find that many of the topics of an exploratory essay lend themselves to controversy, to debate and to a multiplicity of opinions.

For example a typical exploratory essay topic could be as follows.

  • human rights in a democracy
  • the effectiveness of international government bodies
  • the laws regarding refugees

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