The exploratory essay is designed to research a topic, and to present that research. This paper does not draw conclusions or make recommendations. Because the exploratory essay asks students to gather information about a topic without synthesizing the sources in a sophisticated manner, such as the traditional argumentative paper, instructors often assign this paper as a precursor to an argumentative paper or a recommendation report.
Because the author is not making an argument, providing an opinion, or making a recommendation, the tone of theexploratory paper must be objective. The audience should not have any hint of how the author feels about the topic, if he or she has an opinion. As a result, it is usually a good idea to choose a topic that you do not have strong feelings about. If the topic is near and dear to your heart, you may find it difficult to maintain objectivity.
The introduction of an exploratory essay should explain the topic that is being explored in the essay, as well as provide background about the topic. The thesis of an exploratory essay might mention some of the major findings. However, it is important to state these findings without seeming to advocate for them or to give an opinion. For example, “The high student dropout rate in the United States is a problem that educators have been trying to solve for decades. The high dropout rate may be related to socioeconomic status, to the state in high the student lives, and to the student’s family situation.” In this thesis, the student states “may” instead of “is,” which avoids persuading the audience that these findings are true.
The supporting paragraphs should cover the major categories of findings that the student uncovered during their research. each paragraph should have a strong topic sentence and provide at least one source. Because the role of the exploratory essay is simply to present information about a topic, none of the information should be from the author’s own experiences or from their personal opinion.
When writing this essay, it is important to cite sources appropriately and accurately. Some students tend to use too many quotations in this essay because they do not understand how to present the research yet put it into their own words. Try to avoid using more than two quotations per page, and keep them short. Limiting the use of quotations helps the paper flow more smoothly.
The conclusion should summarize the major findings without drawing a conclusion or making a recommendation. However, the student can point out a few areas that should be examined in more detail, or explain the importance of addressing the problem in the future, if applicable.
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