An exploratory essay represents a unique kind of academic composition in which the key focus is not on presenting an argument or defending a specific thesis statement. Rather, the purpose is to explore an issue about which no preformed conclusion is suggested. Hence you will be finding out about this issue in the writing of (as opposed to the research for) the essay.
An exploratory essay thus opens up the thought process far more than in other kinds of scholarly writing. It offers students an opportunity to go in depth into a subject without necessarily pinning themselves to a particular stance on that subject. Hence it is a chance to obtain a broad overview of a topic.
Because we are engaged in an exploration of a subject matter, we are not expected to arrive at definitive explanations or conclusions for it. That's not the purpose of this kind of essay. We are not seeking to prove or disprove a particular proposition through formal reasoning.
You do not have to try and push the flow of your work toward an intellectual terminus, so to speak. In fact, the end of the essay may uncover more questions, more complexity than was originally anticipated.
An exploratory essay is focused on the processes involved in solving specific kinds of research problems. Hence it is fundamentally an introspective and contemplative undertaking. This means you will likely be posing overt questions within the work, such as why, how and when a certain issue came to be understood in a particular way.
So, instead of trying to solve the problem, you are seeking to expose the various relevant perspectives which inform it. Consequently, we are dealing with a speculative and ruminative form of writing in which one seeks to open up the subject matter as opposed to narrowing it down.
While exploratory essays are in methodology unique, in form they follow traditional scholarly standard. This means opening with an introduction which clarifies the research problem in summary, detailing its significance. In addition you might address the context of the problem, its causes and effects, potential solutions and so forth. You might also include an outline of the sorts of critical sources you referred to in your investigation.
In the argument body, the bulk of the discussion will be focused on the processes of enquiry you pursued. Your first paragraph will go into more detail about the research problem, why you think it's relevant and what particular implications are. Next you would probably want to include additional information which elucidates the nature of the problem thus corroborating your research motivation.
You need to give account of how and why you've used the particular resources you have in addressing this problem. Remember be ruminative and contemplative, explain the thinking behind your thinking. The reader should not only know what your thoughts are, but have a good idea as to how and why you arrived at these thoughts.
Your conclusion will reiterate the research problem, outlining how your explorations have elucidated the issue. You want to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the multiple perspectives you have highlighted. Also, you would point toward what new lines of research might further aid in an understanding of the topic at hand.
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