Writing a Reaction Paper

Every student is periodically asked by his or her teacher to read a certain book or article and to produce a paper with his/her response to the material. Often, students have no idea of how to write a reaction paper, while their instructors expect them to do the following things: to provide a brief summary of the material and student’s reaction to it. In this article, we are going to explain how to manage this task.

How to Start

First, you should realize that reaction or response papers have to provide writer’s thoughts or feelings about something he/she has read or seen. So, what you have to do is to read or view the material. While doing this, keep in mind and try to answer the following questions: ‘How do you feel about the material?’, ‘Do you agree with it?’, ‘Can you identify the situation?’, ‘What is the best way to provide the evaluation of the material you are reading (watching)?’ Complete as many statements as you can about the material while you are reading (watching) it, using phrases like “I think/see/feel that…”, “It seems that”, “Moreover/however/additionally”, “For example”, “A good quote is”, “Finally”, “Consequently”, “In conclusion”, etc. The statements, which you will get when you complete reading/watching the material, will become your rough draft. You have to organize this draft in a clear and logical way so that your paper has an introduction, main body part and conclusion. Continue reading our reaction paper guidelines to get to know which steps you should next.

Make a Brief Summary of the Material

In order to complete the first part of your writing, do the following. First, identify the author and the title of the work, and do not forget to mention in parentheses the publisher and publication date. If your material was published in magazine, provide the date of publication.

Write a brief and informative summary of the material, which you have studied. Try to condense its content shortly describing major points. It will be great if you use direct quotations from the work in order to present important ideas. Avoid discussing in detail separate aspects of the work and make sure to mention all the equally important points. Ensure the summary, which you have written, is objective. Also, avoid including your personal reaction to the material in the first paragraph; it should be presented in the next part of the paper.

Provide Your Reaction to the Material

So what is a reaction paper? It is the paper, which has to illustrate your reaction to a certain material. So here are some pieces of advice on how to write the main body of your reaction paper.

While describing your reaction, concentrate on the following questions.Is there any relation between the work, which you have studied, and the ideas and concerns discussed in the class for which you are preparing this essay? Is this work somehow related to the problems of our present-day life? Is this material related to your life and experiences? How did you feel while studying the material? Did the material increase your understanding of a certain issue? Did it affect your perspective somehow? Provide an assessment of the main points of the work, and consider its accuracy, completeness, organization, etc. Also, indicate in this part whether or not you could recommend this material to others, and why.

You should reach an agreement with your instructor whether he or she wants you to emphasize any specific points in your essay.

What to Consider when Working on Your Paper

Here are several important things you have to keep in mind while writing a report paper:

  • All sentences must be clear, free of mistakes, coherent and organized in a logical flow.
  • Each paragraph of the body has to present and develop a single point. For example, in the first paragraph, provide a brief summary of the material, and in the three following paragraphs describe three separate reactions to it. Then, close your essay with a clear conclusion.
  • Support every general point with concrete reasons and details. Try to avoid senseless statements, such as “I agree with most ideas in this book”, which do not provide any specific evidence why you feel that way. Read a lot of reaction paper samples to see how the main points and topic sentences of each paragraph are developed.
  • Organize an essay properly. Use the basic organization plan described above: start with a short summary, then describe a reaction in several paragraphs, and end with a concluding paragraph. Besides, use transitions so that the relationships between the ideas in your essay are clear.
  • Do a thorough editing step to exclude any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling mistakes and improper word use.
  • Make sure you use the proper citation style and the required academic format. If you have any doubts about the required documentation style, it is necessary to ask your instructor.
  • Students may use quotations in the first paragraphs and the body part, but they do not have to rely on them too much. It is recommended to use quotations only to emphasize major points.
  • You can incorporate the publishing information parenthetically or at the bottom of the page in a footnote. However, it would be better if you ask your instructor what publishing information should be included and where it has to be placed.