Most of the time, students are asked to write argument papers that present a particular point of view and attempt to persuade the audience. Sometimes that makes this writing assignment seem confusing. Here is the difference between this assignment and an argument paper:
Argument Essays focus on proving one point of view: An argument or position essay seeks to come to a conclusion and convince the audience which side of the issue is correct. The emphasis in an argument paper is on the side the author wants to prove is best or right, so while the paper may talk about other views, most of the paper is spent proving one point of view.
Exploratory essays look at several points of view in a neutral way. Rather than trying to solve the problem, this sort of paper explores the different perspectives of the problem and seeks to understand the cultural and social context of the issue. It is the sort of paper you would write before writing a solution paper. An exploratory paper is common in businesses when they are attempting to find a solution to a problem and need to get all of the possible perspectives and information available.
Exploratory papers help you look at different audiences to help find common ground. This paper also explores the different audiences or groups of people who are concerned about this issue, giving their different viewpoints on the cause, effects, and solutions proposed. In order to do this paper, you may want to narrow the issue you are thinking about so that you can cover the idea more effectively.
Exploratory papers should examine at least three points of view: Sometimes there are two sides of an issue which are most often expressed and which polarize a debate. In an exploratory paper, you are asked to look beyond the obvious answers in order to find other points of view which can sometimes help in solving the problem. For example, in looking at the issue of illegal immigration, you can examine the conservative and liberal political views, but you can also look at the viewpoint of the illegal immigrants themselves, the viewpoint of the government that the illegal immigrants come from, and the viewpoints of the people who live on both sides of the border where illegal immigrants cross. You might also consider the viewpoint of the border patrol employees.
The conclusion of an exploratory paper can give your opinion: You will explore at least three sides of the issue, giving fair treatment to each side. However, in the conclusion of the paper, you will indicate your own position and why you are persuaded in that direction.
Organizing an Exploratory Essay
This resource will help you with exploratory/inquiry essay assignments.
Contributors: Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:44:38
Exploratory essays are very different from argumentative essays. In fact, an exploratory essay is likely different from any other essay you’ve written. Instead of writing to convince an audience of the validity of a thesis, you will be writing to find out about a problem and perhaps to form some preliminary conclusions about how it might be solved.
But there is another aspect the exploratory genre that is equally important. An exploratory essay is, in essence, a retrospective of your writing and thinking process as you work through a problem. It describes when, how, and why you completed certain types of research. This kind of writing is about how you work through problems that require writing and research. You will have to be introspective and think about your thinking process in order for your essay to turn out well.
Very roughly, then, your exploratory essay may follow this sort of structure:
The introduction should outline the problem you explored and why it’s important. In addition, you should briefly discuss 1) some of the problem’s possible causes; 2) the institutions and people involved with the problem; 3) some of the possible solutions to the problem. A brief overview of the types of sources your researched during your inquiry.
Body paragraphs should discuss the inquiry process you followed to research your problem. These paragraphs should include the following:
- Introduction of source (title, author, type of media, publisher, publication date, etc.) and why you chose to use it in your exploration
- Important information you found in the source regarding your problem
- Why the information is important and dependable in relation to the problem
- Some personal introspection on how the source helped you, allowed you to think differently about the problem, or even fell short of your expectations and led you in a new direction in your research, which forms a transition into your next source.
The conclusion should restate the problem you explored, outline some of its possible causes, review the institutions and people involved, and highlight some possible solutions. If you still have any questions about the problem (and it’s ok to have some), you will discuss them here. Talk about why you think you still have questions regarding the problem you explored, where you might look to answer these questions, and what other forms of research you would have to do.