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How to Write a Response Paper

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A response or reaction paper is a bit of a twist on a formal review of a book, artwork, or article, because response papers are written from the first person point of view, which simply means that you can and should use phrases  like “I thought” and “I believe” when reviewing. 

 

1. Read and Respond

Copyright Grace Fleming

In a response paper, you do assess the item you’ve been assigned to observe, but you add your personal reaction and impressions to the report.

The steps for completing a reaction or response paper are:

  • Observe or read the piece for an initial understanding
  • Re-read the piece and stop to reflect often
  • Record your thoughts and impressions in notes
  • Develop a thesis
  • Write an outline
  • Construct your essay

 

2. The First Paragraph

Copyright Grace Fleming

Once you have established an outline for your paper, you'll need to craft an essay using the basic elements of every strong essay, including a strong introductory sentence.

In the case of a reaction paper, the first senetence should contain the title of the object to which you are responding, and the name of the author.

The last sentence of your introductory papragraph should contain a thesis statement.

3. Stating Your Opinion

Copyright Grace Fleming

There's no need to feel shy about expressing your own opinion in a position paper, even though it may seem strange to write "I feel" or "I believe" in an essay. The instructor is actually looking for this.

In the sample here, the writer does a good job of analyzing and comparing the plays, but also manages to express personal reactions.

4. Sample Statements

A response paper could address any type of work, from a piece of art or a film to a book. When writing a response paper, you can include statements like the following:

  • I felt that
  • In my opinion
  • The reader can conclude that
  • The author seems to
  • I did not like
  • The images seemed to
  • The author was [was not] successful in making me feel
  • I was especially moved by
  • I didn't get the connection between
  • It was clear that the artist was trying to
  • The sound track seemed too
  • My favorite part was...because

You can think of a response paper as a review that is part analysis and part opinion.

 

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