How To Write An Exploratory Essay (Topics, Outline, Paper Examples

Majority of the students are used to writing essays where they must take sides. They introduce a topic and have to convince the reader why to stick to a certain argument. Exploratory essays are unique, in that, you do not have to lean towards any particular argument. The bottom line is identifying that a given problem exists, who it affects and how.

What is an exploratory essay?

To explore means to look into a certain subject in detail. Therefore, an exploratory essay is a piece of essay writing that digs deep into a problem. It creates a debate arising from the different points of view on the same subject matter. Since it does not focus on any specific idea, it will discuss all the possibilities. This essay acknowledges that people differ in beliefs, exploring how so.

Exploratory essay is a type of essay that is composed in the first place and it acts a guide to future research. It tells the general idea of the thesis statement or main point and it contains informal information with no formal structure in compared with other forms of academic writing.

Exploratory essays can be different from other kinds of essays, but what they share is a focus on discovery. When you write an exploratory essay, you are trying to understand a topic or idea in new ways. One way to think about it is that your readers should not know exactly where the essay will go as they read through it. Instead, your readers should follow along with you as you try to understand something better than you did before, and this process of exploration leads you toward a central thesis or argument.

Exploratory essay can be compared to writing a lab report, where students write down their findings and conclusions at the first stage of investigation and they have a chance to change their opinion later, when they get more data. It is understandable that this type of essay is not so difficult as other types of essays and it doesn't demand high level of writing skills from the students.

Exploratory essay can be written on any topic because it doesn't have strict requirements. If you decide to write an exploratory essay, first of all think what kind of information should be included in your essay and how it can help you get a certain amount of knowledge about the given problem. When you are writing this type of essay, be sure that you don't mention sources and works used for getting the data.

If there is a chance to choose one or another type of essays, do not prefer exploratory writing because it cares only on collecting material; however other types are more useful when aim is research paper with results and conclusions. It may seem that this type of essay is useless but in fact there are many situations when students need such work. If you lack of time and your task is just to write essay, the best way out for you would be to make a good exploratory paper.

Why this type of essay doesn't have strict requirements? Firstly, it doesn't demand high level of writing skills and secondly, there is no need to include sources in your paper.

An exploratory essay don't need an introduction part (how to start an essay). You should only determine the main idea and write it down in a general form with information from your previous knowledge about the subject you wish to explore unless your teacher has specified otherwise.

If you have never written such kind of reports before feel free to search our online database for essay examples which can help you understand how an exploratory essay looks like. However if you've got used to write such papers, you can do it without any examples because the structure of this type of essay is pretty simple.

Write an exploratory essay in accordance to your teacher's requirements and be sure that if you lack of time, this type of papers will help you solve your problems.

Elements of a good exploratory essay

  • Existing problem

For an exploratory essay to be effective, it must mention the existence of a problem that calls for an investigation. The writer must raise this issue in the introduction part of the essay.

  • Analysis of the issue

Having acknowledged that there is an issue, you need to expound on it. Use relevant texts, authors, readers, and constraints to further discuss the problem.

  • Various positions of the problem

Since this is not an argumentative essay, identify an average of three standings regarding the problem at hand. If, for instance, you are talking about immigration, identify the immigrants’, border patrol and government’s points of view.

  • Writer’s view

You are also at liberty to express your views regarding the issue you were exploring. You can use different styles to show your stand; graphs, charts, data and more.

Choosing a topic of an exploratory essay paper

Not all topics a writer can exploit to come up with a perfect exploratory essay.

When students are choosing a topic for their research paper or thesis, they look for something unique and interesting but at the same time they must keep in mind that they have to write about it later. The main rule is not just to find an interesting theme but also to know how to work with it. One shouldn't start writing when he or she knows nothing about a certain problem. There would be no interesting topic if you have nothing to say about it.

Therefore, students start looking for a good source of knowledge and the best way out is to use Internet. There are many websites with great information and when you choose one among them, you can get everything that you need for writing an exploratory essay effectively.

There are two main things that must be taken into account when choosing a topic for an exploratory essay: the variety of topics and originality.

If your teacher wants to see something new or special in a paper, choose such a theme which may not have been explored before even though the novelty of the theme will be defined by you.

A good way out is to order a research paper but if you do not want to spend money and if your paper is not urgent, write something on your own using the best research paper ideas on our website.

Before choosing an issue that you wish to dig into, consider the following;

  • No obvious solutions

The exploratory essay looks at a problem from different perspectives. Therefore, choosing a topic with an obvious solution beats the logic.

  • A variety of answers to the problem

If each solution you look at seems workable from a certain point of view, then you chose the right topic. The issues discussed in an exploratory essay consider the beliefs of different people. Subsequently, each perspective will yield a solution that works best for the individuals.

  • Controversy

An excellent exploratory essay is controversial in the sense that people will differ in opinions. That is where the writer comes in and discusses these existing differences even if the problem is the same.

  • Linked to weighted issues

Your topic should focus on current issues with a resulting need. Consequently, it is a problem relating to current situations amongst people. If you choose an ancient issue, it will most likely have an obvious solution.

Structure of an exploratory essay

Now that you have the perfect topic at hand, you should start organizing the various ideas present. To do this, an outline will come in handy; write the critical points only.

Skipping an outline may eventually cost you more time trying to determine how to position your points.

Here is how to structure an exploratory essay and outline.

Introduction - How to start an exploratory essay paper

Essays are known for their structured manner with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The exploratory essay is no different in structure. However, the content of each part of the essay is unique from any other piece of writing.

How do I start an expository paper?

You can start an exploratory essay by giving a brief overview of your topic or you can start right away by telling what you will be exploring in your paper (i.e., how the title relates to your exploration). If possible, use interesting facts to draw attention to your topic.

The main thing here is not to make the opening paragraph too long. Just give the reader a slight idea of where you are going with your piece and then move on to the next step – developing ideas within your paper and presenting evidence for your claims.

Adopt a technique that catches the reader’s attention and make sure he/she understands the problem at hand. Why is it crucial that you explore that particular issue? Your introduction should not only touch on the “what” but the “why” as well. You can use scenarios, questions, statistics, or situations to bring your point home.

Exploratory essay introduction examples

Take this introductory paragraph from Alexandra Petri's Washington Post article "How Should We Feel About The Big Death?"

I have been thinking about death quite a lot recently for reasons I cannot exactly put into words. I have always been fascinated by the topic, but lately it has taken on new weight.

The author goes on to give more details about her thoughts and how she came to be thinking so much about death. She ends with a suggestion that writing about death is one way people can try to make sense of it.

Consider this exploratory essay introductory paragraph from an opinion piece written for The New York Times:

I don't know about you but I take refuge from these times in various articles of faith: that the checks and balances in the Constitution will hold; that those who love America truly have not lost their bearings; that we can endure. I don't know about you but I take refuge from these times in various articles of faith: that the checks and balances in the Constitution will hold; that those who love America truly have not lost their bearings; that we can endure.

The rest of this exploratory essay explores how modern Americans might follow Coleridge's advice to avoid dogmatic conclusions while still holding on to some hope for a better future.

Body paragraphs

Exploratory essay body paragraphs are structured in the same way as any other type of paper body paragraphs. Each body paragraph will discuss one aspect of the main idea, or explore a few related topics.

After you have written your introductory paragraph and made sure that it has captivated the reader's attention, your next step should be organizing all facts you have researched into at least 2-3 subtopics which will serve as main ideas for each body paragraph.

Try to make your points relevant, use transitions to connect them and don't forget about thesis statement when writing an exploratory essay.

Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence, which acts as an umbrella for all of the ideas contained in that paragraph, and multiple sentences of supporting evidence.

Make sure you don't have any weak links; every single sentence should contribute to your exploratory essay idea.

The body of an exploratory essay is divided into two parts

Part 1: Clarify the issue

This part comprises the first paragraph of your essay’s body. In this paragraph, you not only state the problem but the various stakes it affects. You can start by highlighting any other people that have discussed this issue; media, activists, religious leaders, among others. You can further explain the people that find this particular topic interesting (readers). In this paragraph, you can also mention why people are interested in this subject. You can further touch on the constraints. What makes people hold back from exploring this area exhaustively?

Part 2: Perspectives

You can have three or more paragraphs discussing the opinions of different people. Explain clearly the beliefs help by these people and justification to their stand. What are the claims and are they substantiated? If these opinions differ, ensure you use the proper connecting words between paragraphs. “On the contrary”, “as opposed to”, “a different opinion” are some words you can adopt.

This is where you put all your research and ideas together to make a strong argument that will support your point of view.

Exploratory essays are not based on one main idea, so most likely they will contain secondary sub-points related to the topic as well if you want to make a good impression with readers. You may also have different opinions about the same theme or moment in history and you can include them in your exploratory essay, too. Just think about it for a while, how would your opinion be different than others' when it goes against what many people believe? The best way out is to suggest some evidence from history or other events related to the main topic so that no one could claim that your perspective is baseless.

Conclusion: 

You might be asking 'how do I end an exploratory essay?' 'how do I write a conclusion for an exploratory essay?'

This part of an exploratory essay is very important since it will sum up everything you have already written and bring closure to your work. In some cases, an introduction may point out where an article is going, but in most exploratory essays conclusions offer some sort of solution or give some advice on what actions should be taken if there was a problem identified using the previous examples as support. Still, there are no strict rules here – just use your imagination and focus on formulating a good idea before you start writing the body paragraphs or the essay introduction.

Other essays do not allow one to introduce new ideas while concluding their work. However, the exploratory essay gives you a chance to air your opinion in the conclusion. Your perspective can be one that you have discussed earlier or entirely new work. You can base your point of view on your beliefs. At this point, you also present the reader with a chance to choose where they stand. Therefore, the exploratory essay aims at providing knowledge, as viewed from different directions. It does not necessarily provide a solution to the existing problem. Your conclusion should also provide the necessary insights into making a decision regarding the issue.

Exploratory essay thesis statement:

Write a thesis statement. This is the first sentence that summarizes the whole entry so make sure you spend some time thinking about it before starting to work on an essay outline.

The topic sentence should be very clear and concise and should include all info needed to understand the idea that follows it

Use transitions to make sure that your writing flows properly and employ strong vocabulary.

Avoid common mistakes such as overuse of adjectives, awkward word order or use of semicolons in a wrong way!

60+ Exploratory Essay Topics Examples

Here is a list of 100 topics for exploratory paper:

  1. The Importance of Health in the Category of Human Worth
  2. The Perception of Others as a Barrier to Personal Expansion
  3. The Developmental Process through Which Oneself Becomes Aware of One's Identity and Place in the World
  4. A Life Dedicated to God and Humanity: What Does It Really Mean?
  5. The Importance of Balance in the Context of Social Interaction
  6. How Does One Survive the Stress and Pressure of Public Performance?
  7. The Value of Small Talk: What is its Purpose, and How Can It be Used to Achieve Its Goals?
  8. Too Much Knowledge Is Dangerous?: Why Some Think So, and What Should Be Done About It
  9. The Shortcomings of Utopian Thinking and the Need for Pragmatic Progress in Social Reform
  10. Children's Perception of the World: How to Improve Its Effectiveness
  11. Personal Freedom as a Necessary Condition for Fulfilling One's Potential
  12. Why Do Some People Have Such a Hard Time Believing?
  13. The Implementation of State Policy Through the Manipulation of Public Opinion: Is It Always Wrong?
  14. How Do You Deal with Defeat in Sport and Life?
  15. What Can Be Done to Preserve Historical Monuments During Social Transition?
  16. What Are Our Responsibilities to Future Generations?
  17. How Can a Diligent Person Succeed in Life?
  18. What Are the Real Problems of Poverty, and What Can Be Done About Them?
  19. The Slavery of Racism: Its Negative Effects on Society and How It Should Be Eradicated
  20. How Successful Is the Modern Media in Creating an Unbiased and Balanced Image of Society?
  21. The Value of Honesty: What is Its Importance, and Should It Be Implemented in Every Situation?
  22. Is There a Solution to Crime?: And Why Do We Need One?
  23. Conflict Resolution in the Modern World: The Problems with Current Approaches and the Need for Improved Solutions
  24. The Importance of Religion in a Developed Society: Is It Necessary? And If So, Should it Be Governed by the State or Be Independent of Government Involvement?
  25. What Benefits Can be Derived from the Use of E-Commerce? Is it a Means to Increase Social Welfare and If So, How Does It Do This?
  26. The Problems Caused by Inequality: What Can Be Done To Mitigate Them?
  27. Should There be Limits on Freedom of Expression in Order to Protect Different Subgroups of Society From Racism and Hate Speech?
  28. What Can Be Done About the Wage Gap Between Men and Women?: What Types of Discrimination are There, How Do They Operate, and Where do We Go from Here?
  29. The Problem of Poverty: Should We Help Those in Need or Leave Them to Sink or Swim on Their Own?
  30. Violence and the Media: What Is Being Done to Combat It, What Do Those in Power Know about it, Why is it Frequently Ignored?
  31. The Dangers of Bigotry: How Far Should Favoring One's Own Group Go, and Does a Nation Have the Right to Limit Membership Within Its Boundaries?
  32. The State of Politics in the 21st Century: What Is Being Done to Make it More Transparent and Representative, and How Does This Affect Society?
  33. What Types of Social Services Should be Provided by a Government?: Who Should Pay for Them, Why Are Some Taxed to Provide Others with Benefits, and How It Should Be Done to Ensure Future Stability?
  34. The Maintenance of Public Order: How Is the Balance Between Security and Freedom Being Achieved in Different Societies, What Are the Problems Associated with It, and How Can They Be Solved?
  35. What Are the Dangers of Free Trade?: Does Protectionism Provide More Benefits to Society?
  36. The Problem of Racial Discrimination: How Can it Be Solved and Does It Even Need to be, What is the Value of Cultural Diversity?
  37. Is There a Solution to Poverty?: And If So, What Should Be Done about It?
  38. The Importance of Human Rights in Political Development: Why Do They Need to be Protected, and Should the State Be Involved in Protecting Them?
  39. What Can Be Done About Government Waste?: And How Does It Affect Society?
  40. The Responsibilities of Governments Towards Their Citizens: Are There Limits on What a Citizen Can Demand From the State or Should They Always Get What They Want?
  41. The Dangers of Bigotry: How Far Should Favoring One's Own Group Go, and Does a Nation Have the Right to Limit Membership Within Its Boundaries?
  42. Crime in the Modern World: Is There an Effective Solution to It All, Where do Criminals Come From, and What Can Be Done to Stop Them?
  43. The Nature of Poverty: Why are the Poor So Far Behind the Wealthy, and How Should We Treat Those Who Are Not as Successful in Life As We Are?
  44. Globalization: Is It Beneficial to All or Are Some Countries Getting a Raw Deal?: Should Trade Be Regulated by the State or Should it be Allowed to Develop Without Government Intervention?
  45. What Problems is the Internet Creating?: What Needs to Be Done About It, and How Does it Affect Society?
  46. Why Is Privacy Important: And Where Is the Line Drawn between an Average Citizen's Right to Their Own Privacy and the State's Duty to Protect Society?
  47. What is Wrong with Religion?: Why do Many People Reject It, Are There Alternatives to it, Should We Endorse One or More Religions?
  48. The Benefits of Partnership: How Can Partnerships Improve Our Lives, What Risks Do They Pose to Economic Development, and Are There Benefits to Having Both Partnerships and Firms?
  49. Media Influence: What Are the Negative Effects of Media Coverage on Society, How Much Should it be Controlled by Government, and Where is the Line Drawn Between Freedom of Expression and the Public Interest?
  50. Racism in Sports: Why Do Some People Reject Mixed Race Competitions, What is Being Done to Solve the Problem?
  51. The Dangers of Bigotry: How Far Should Favoring One's Own Group Go, and Does a Nation Have the Right to Limit Membership Within Its Boundaries?
  52. Why Are Some People More Successful than Others?: What Are the Dangers of Social Inequality, and How Can We Avoid it?
  53. The Morality of War: Is There a Way to End All Wars and Should We Use Force to Prevent Governments From Making Unjust Decisions?
  54. Fear of Crime: What is Being Done to Reduce Rates of Criminal Activity, Why Does Society Perceive Some Crimes as More Harmful Than Others, and Have Things Gone Too Far in the Name of Security?
  55. The Politics of Education: What is Being Done to Protect Children from Their Teachers, How Can an Effective Educational System Be Achieved, and Should Schools be Affiliated with any Particular Religion or Ideology?
  56. The Problem of Personal Privacy: Is the Government Doing Enough to Protect Citizens from Unnecessary Interference, What Should be Done About It? Are There Times When We Need to Violate a Person's Right to Privacy for Their Own Good?
  57. Why is Poverty Still an Issue?: Should Society Take Action on Its Own, or Do Governments Need to Issue Laws and Regulations to Fix the Problem? How Can It Be Fixed, and What are the Dangers of Doing So?
  58. The Power of Human Rights: Why do Some People Think That Human Rights are Essential for All Times, Where is the Line Drawn Between a Right and a Privilege, and Should All Countries Have the Right to Promote and Protect their Citizens' Rights?
  59. The Use of Technology in Society: What is Being Done to Combat Its Negative Effects, Where Does Technology Bring Us, and How Much Should We Be Concerned About Our Privacy Online?
  60. Why Do Some Young People Reject Their Elders?: What Are the Repercussions of This Behavior, Why Does It Happen in Some Cases But Not Others, and What Can Be Done to Combat It?
  61. Violence Among Children: Is it Always Bad, How are Some People Justified in Using Physical Force Against Those Who Wield More Power than Themselves?

These are some of the exploratory essay topics that you can write an essay about. If you need help with exploratory essay topics, contact our experts here.

Exploratory essay template example

An example template for an exploratory essay about a given topic can be presented like this:

The aim of this paper is to explore (exploratory topic). As the relevance and importance of (topic) is widely recognized today, I will try to reveal its roots by focusing on (theme 1), (theme 2) and (theme 3). The main goal here is not just to present these themes but also analyze them so I suggest dividing related information into three parts: early times, the first half of (theme) and consequences.

The next question to be answered in the body section, why should I write about (theme>? To give the answer to this and other related questions this exploratory essay will include relevant information from sources such as (list 1), (list 2) and so on. It is just not enough to give the list of references – You have to explain how they are important to you or your study.

(Conclude your essay here)

Using a templated format for an exploratory essay, all you need to do is fill in the blank spaces with relevant information or just use a template without filling it up.

Exploratory Essay Example

This is an example of an exploratory essay about cell phones:

As the popularity of mobile phones has increased worldwide, many people have become concerned about its effects on human health. Today, we are going to talk about some potential threats from using cell phone radiation. These threats include increased risk of cancer and stronger electromagnetic fields among many others. Human body is exposed to thousands of electromagnetic fields throughout the day but we are probably safe under the limits set by international standards that limit electromagnetic absorption (EMAS) in our bodies. However, for smart phones this EMAS rating has not been established yet so there is a chance that exposing humans to high levels of cell phone radiation can prove harmful although many studies have shown contradictory results on this subject.

One more thing – according to some scientists, cancerous cells grow twice as fast as normal cells do due to human exposure to radiation from cell phone and other electronic devices such as laptops and televisions with LED screens. The main purpose of this exploratory essay example template is to determine if using mobile phones can lead to increased risk of developing cancer and to reveal any other potential threats.

The subject of this essay is divided into two main parts: the first one covers basic facts about mobile phones and their usage whereas the second part focuses more on health issues related to using cell phone radiation in our everyday lives. The first part will start with answering a couple of commonly asked questions such as "What is a cell phone?", "Why are they so common today?" and other similar ones. In addition, I will try to tell why do people think that mobile phones can be harmful for human health – we should not forget that EMAS rating has not been introduced yet so there are still some doubts in this respect. As far as the second part of this exploratory essay sample template is concerned, I will tell how cell phone radiation can be harmful to our health and what precautions we can take to avoid it.

To start with, let’s try to answer a common question that is "What is a cell phone?" A cell phone is based on electromagnetic technology as well as other electronic devices such as laptops or televisions with LED screens. It uses radio waves to communicate between mobile phones and cellular networks via land-lines, thus making it possible for people to stay in touch even when they are not at home or office. Nowadays, more advanced technologies have been developed providing better wireless services than ever before. All this thanks to the development of the Internet which has definitely helped increase the popularity of mobile phones around the world.

As far as the second part of this exploratory essay example template is concerned, we should remember that EMAS rating has not been introduced yet thus many scientists believe that using mobile phones can be harmful to our health. Considering all risks related to cell phone radiation, I highly recommend wearing a headset or earbuds instead of holding your mobile in hands for long periods of time. In addition, you should always:

  • Keep the phone away from your head when talking on it;
  • Use a speakerphone or hands-free set if the conversation lasts more than 15 minutes and do not hold it near your head while listening to music although there are conflicting results on this matter;
  • Turn off your mobile phone when you are near a radar source, for example: an airport.

Moreover, if frequent cell phone use is concerned it is also important to stay away from the phone while driving your car which can be very dangerous and causes a lot of car accidents every day. Better follow our recommendations and save yourself from possible health issues that might arise due to using mobile phones too often or incorrectly.

In brief, there are several studies proving that excessive use of mobile phones leads to various kinds of neurological diseases including depression according to this exploratory essay sample template. On the other hand, some scientists came up with completely opposite results thus concluding that using mobile phones does not have any negative impact on human health at all. Despite the fact that after conducting numerous researches, we have not found any conclusive evidence of the harmful effects of cell phone radiation on human health, I still think that using headset or earbuds especially when talking and listening to music for long periods is definitely better than holding your mobile in hands. Speaking about taking precautions as well as prevention measures against possible side-effects related to EMAS rating changes, I would like to share my personal experience saying that changing a position while sleeping (e.g. lying down instead of on one side) would be much safer than just trying to avoid using your mobile at night. The same can be said about eliminating other possible sources of exposure: do not use too close to you microwave ovens, fluorescent lamps etc..

In conclusion, I would like to add that choosing a particular mobile phone or cell phone provider is still an individual’s decision depending on his or her priorities, preferences and habits.

Exploratory Paper Writing Steps Guide

If you wish to write an exploratory essay, here are great steps in writing a good essay:

  1. Know what makes an exploratory essay .
  2. Use a right structure - should it be chronological or thematic?
  3. Start exploring topics.
  4. Review existing literature
  5. Write a good exploratory essay.
  6. Make your paper even better.
  7. Proofread and edit using your teacher's essay checklist.
  8. Submit your essay for review.
  9. Get feedback and improve the essay.

Editing and Proofreading

Going through and revising your essay upon conclusion is a crucial step since it helps you identify any mistakes. Underline the different perspectives that you have discussed and evaluate their clarity. You can further let someone else read your work.

Has your introduction got them glued to the rest of your essay?

Can they easily identify the different opinions that you intended to highlight? Has the peer reader felt the prompt to give their point of view as well?

Work on any existing typos, grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors. Ensure that you properly cite any sources that you have used in your work.

If you have successfully unveiled the controversy that exists in the subject of discussion, you have a written an exploratory essay that will get you high marks.

There's nothing here yet.