The essence of reading is to internalize what you read. You might be surprised to know that a text does not have a meaning on its own. You, the reader, gives meaning to the text your are reading. How then does your instructor know that you have internalized the course materials you have been reading? Or articles that you are assigned? A response/reaction papers enables your instructor to assess whether you have internalized reading materials.
So, what is a response paper?
Basically, a response paper/reaction paper is a paper written to show the connection between your experience and a reading material. It is a careful expression of what you think and/or feel about one or more texts – how do you feel after reading the text? Do you agree with the text? and/or do you identify with its arguments?.
While writing a response paper, you need to know that the issue of concern is giving your viewpoint as they relate to a reading. In order to give your viewpoint, you are supposed to have a critical reading on your text and identify an area or areas of concern to you that you will use to write your response paper.
A crucial thing to note is that, a response paper or reaction paper is differs from a review paper. Contrary to a response paper, a review paper is written to express your comprehension of a text. A review paper involves a constructive and critical analysis of a reading or readings on a specific field.
Structure of a response/reaction paper
A response paper is no different from other academic papers. It follows the same structure of introduction, body and a conclusion. Nonetheless, how you organize the various sections of your papers is slightly different from the contemporary research paper structure. Let’s see what each section comprises.
- Introduction: An introduction is supposed to capture your readers’ attention and to highlight its focus. A response/reaction paper introduction is no different from those of other papers except its content. For a response paper, instead of giving the background information of your paper, you give a summary of the text you are responding to.
Simply put, your introduction should have a hook, body text and the thesis statement. Check the article on how to write an excellent introduction to understand the various ways you can use to have an effective hook. The body text should comprise a brief summary of the reading(s) that you will be responding to giving focus to the aspect or aspects you will be focusing on on your response. Lastly, you should end your introduction with a thesis statement. While formulating your thesis statement, be sure to state whether you agree, disagree, identify with or evaluate an aspect presented in your reading.
- Body Section: Subsequent paragraphs of your paper should present points to support your argument. Make sure to showcase that you have internalized what you read on your topic sentences (the first sentence on any paragraph that gives the point you are exploring on a certain paragraph). Plausible ways to start your topic sentences is by using phrases such as, ‘In my opinion’, ‘I agree with’, etcetera etcetera – the point is to express the ideas in support to your thesis statement based on your viewpoint after an analysis or critical evaluation of your reading.
- Conclusion: This is basically a summary of your response. Be sure to end your conclusion with an inference of your thoughts and/or feelings relative to your thesis statement.
Good practices while writing a response/reaction paper?
Although a response papers differs from most of the other academic papers, it is no different when it comes to style of writing. You need, to ascertain that you have met all requirements of academic writing. Here is a list of things to note while working on your response paper.
- A response paper is personal: A response paper is written based on your internalization of the text being read. Subsequently, you should use the first person perspective. However, the style of writing and the professional tone remains the same as would be for any other academic paper.
- You may cite external sources: Depending on the instructions given by your instructor, you can use external sources to back your arguments in a response paper. This depends on the instructions of your response paper. However, in case you decide to use external sources, be sure to use them only to support your arguments rather than as the source of your idea.
- Check if your writing/perspective is based and aligned with your own experiences: The essence of a response paper is to promote critical reading and analysis of a reading from a personal perspective. Therefore, your paper ought to capture your personal experiences as they relate to the reading.
How to write an excellent response/reaction paper
Writing a response paper is no different from other writing other academic papers. However, in the case of a response paper, we do not start with a preliminary research as is the case with most other papers. Here is a comprehensive process to use when writing a response paper.
- Read your reading(s) critically: Read your reading while taking notes of the major themes or area of focus. Be sure to note issues that are of interest to you – those that you agree with, disagree with, identify with, that are new to you or which clarify an issue you might have had previously among others.
- Identify specific issue(s) of interest to respond to: Identify an aspect of the reading that you would like to respond to. This might be a single area of focus or several issues that the author of the material you are responding to was trying to present.
- Formulate an argument: Using the issue or issues you have identified above, develop an argument (thesis statement for your essay). Your argument will guide the approach your essay takes – all your arguments are to support or oppose this argument.
- Make an outline: Identify points based on your thoughts or feelings that you will use to support or oppose your argument. We presented an excellent approach that you can use to develop a comprehensive outline. You should be sure to include evidence from your reading and any external source that you have used to support every point you will be using. Main concern should be integration of your thoughts, and feeling relative to the reading material(s) you are responding to. External sources – if used – should only be used sparingly and within the body sentences.
- Do your write-up and edit it: Once you have confirmed that your outline is correct and meets your essays instructions, do your write-up. With a good and comprehensive outline, you do not need to reread your assigned reading or external materials. Once done, edit your paper for grammar and logical errors.
Do you still need help with your response paper?
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