5.2 Exploratory Essay

Preparing to Write the Exploratory Essay

Preparing for the Exploratory Essay

So far in Unit 3, you have completed the following steps in the research process:

1. Identified an issue question that you are interested in answering

2. Listed information questions whose answers will help you develop your own answer to your issue question

3. Compiled an annotated bibliography of your five best sources.

In the next major assignment, the Exploratory Essay, you will consider three distinct ways of answering your issue question and trace your how your thoughts on your topic have changed or deepened through your research. The exploratory essay will help you think through your own answer to the question on which you focused, which you will then use as the central claim of your Researched Argument and support with evidence from and commentary on your sources.

The Exploratory Essay  is not a rehashed Annotated Bibliography. In the Annotated Bibliography, you considered each source in isolation and evaluated its usefulness for your essay. In the Exploratory Essay, you will synthesize your sources and generate a claim based on what you have learned from your research.

The Exploratory Essay  is not an argument. In the Researched Argument, you will make and defend a claim. In the Exploratory Essay, on the other hand, you will show how your sources helped you arrive at your claim and how they inform your claim.

Sowhat is an exploratory essay?

The main purposes of an exploratory essay are to consider different perspectives and evidence, to question your own viewpoints, and to formulate your thoughts about how to answer the issue question you chose for your topic.

Before you start writing, please view Northern Virginia Community College’s  video on exploratory  essays. You may also find it helpful to read  "How to Write an Exploratory Essay"  by Virginia Kearney.

Please see Assignment 5.2 for instructions for what to include in your Exploratory Essay and how to organize it.

5.2 Exploratory  Essay

5.2 Assignment


Synthesize what you've learned so far on your topic to generate a central claim

Generate material for the researched argument

Consider and integrate alternative viewpoints


Before you begin, make sure you have read “Preparing to Write the

Exploratory Essay” and watched the NOVA video on exploratory essays.

Length: 5-7 pages, double spaced, MLA format

Sources: three, each representing a different point of view


This essay is structured around stages of your thought process and how it evolves as you reflect on how each source illuminates the issue question for your research. Please use this organization.

In this essay, you will describe the problem or controversy your issue question addresses, consider several different perspectives or "answers" to your issue question, and, based on an objective-as-possible examination of the evidence, formulate your own answer to your issue question.

Due: Sunday, Week 5

Where do I post my work?  Please click on the 5.2 Exploratory Essay link in black type at the top of the page. Since this is a formal essay that your instructor will type comments on, please upload your essay as a Word file.   Attach your correctly named file below by going to the "Attach Files" section of the page. If needed, review how to submit assignments  HERE.  The Word file should be named LASTNAME_Exploratory. Example: SMITH_Exploratory.

You will submit your work via SafeAssign tool. You may view your Originality Report and resubmit the paper up to 2 times (total 3 submissions allowed).

Please, check the box "I agree to submit my paper(s) to the  Global Reference Database."

Image Source:  "Person  with  Binoculars"  by   Andrea  Piacquadio  licensed as free to use no attribution required