An Expert Writer's Guide on How to Write a Response/Reaction Paper
The essence of reading is to internalize what you've read. A text does not have a meaning on its own. You, the reader, gives meaning to the text you are reading.
How then does your instructor know that you have internalized the course materials you have been reading? Or the articles you are assigned? A response essay, or rather a reaction essay, enables your instructor to assess whether you have internalized your course reading materials.
So, what is a response essay?
Basically, a response paper or reaction essay is an essay 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.
It seeks to answer questions such as:
- How do you feel after reading the text?
- Do you agree with the text?
- 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 it relates to a reading.
In order to give your viewpoint, 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 differs from a review paper. A response paper is not a summary or a critical analysis based on previous studies. Nor is it a review essay. 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 essay
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.
An introduction is supposed to capture your readers’ attention and to highlight its focus. A response essay's 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 with focus on the aspect(s) you will be covering in your response paper.
In simple terms, your introduction should have a hook, body text and a thesis statement. An effective introduction hook is essential to capture your readers attention. The body text should comprise a brief summary of the reading(s) you will be responding to giving focus to the aspect(s) you will be focusing on on your response.
Lastly, you should end your introduction with a thesis statement. While formulating your thesis statement, state whether you agree, disagree, identify with or evaluate an aspect presented in your reading.
Subsequent paragraphs of your essay should present points to support your argument. Make sure to showcase that you have internalized what you read on your topic sentences.
Plausible ways to start your topic sentences is by using phrases such as, ‘In my opinion’, ‘I agree with’ and so on. The point is to express your opinions in support of your thesis statement based on your analysis or critical evaluation of your reading.
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 the thesis statement.
Good practices while writing a reaction essay?
Although a response paper differs from most other other academic papers, it is no different when it comes to the style of writing. The use of formal tone and writing style remains the same. You need to show that you've met all requirements of academic writing. Here is a list of things to note while writing a response essay.
Ø A response essay 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.
Ø You may cite external sources
Depending on the instructions given by your instructor, you can use external sources to back your arguments while writing a response paper. In case you decide to use external sources, ensure that you only use them to support your arguments and not as source of your idea. Your arguments should be based on your thoughts and/or feelings.
Ø Check if your writing/perspective is based and aligned with your own experiences
The essence of a response essay is to promote critical reading and analysis of a reading from a personal perspective. Therefore, your essay ought to capture your personal experiences as they relate to the reading.
How do I write an excellent response essay
Writing a response paper is no different from writing other academic papers. In the case of a response essay, don't start with a preliminary research as is the case with other papers. Here is a the process of writing a response essay.
Read your reading(s) critically
Read your assigned reading while taking notes of the major themes or area of focus. Be certain to note issues of interest to you. Note issues you agree, disagree, or identify with. Note issues that are new to you or which clarify an issue you might have had previously as well.
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(s) you have identified above, develop an argument. Your argument will guide the approach your essay takes. All subsequent arguments in the topic senetnces are to support this argument.
Make an outline
Identify points based on your thoughts or feelings that you will use to support your argument. We presented an excellent approach that you can use to learn how to develop a comprehensive outline.
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 needed – should only be used sparingly and within the body sentences. More so, be clear on how the external source helps make your argument - this can be attained using the help of a brief annotated bibliography.
Write your response essay and edit it
Once you have confirmed that your outline is correct and meets your essay's instructions, write your response paper. With a good and comprehensive outline, you don't need to reread your assigned reading or external materials. Once done writing your response paper, edit your essay for grammar and logical errors.
Need help writing a response paper?
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