In your college career, you will likely write more than a few response papers, and you may find yourself asking why. The response paper can often seem like busywork, but it plays an important role in the college academic ecosystem. A response paper’s purpose is to demonstrate that you have completed the assigned reading or viewing and have thought about it. A response paper is basically a receipt proving to your instructor that you didn’t skip the assignment. However, that doesn’t mean that a reaction paper can be blown off. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best approach to a response paper and what you can do to turn these frequent assignments into a showcase for your skills.
Before You Write Your Response Paper
Before you begin any reaction paper, there are a few things you need to be sure that you have done. Though it might seem obvious, the first thing you need to do before you write your paper is to make sure you have completed the assigned reading or viewing. Surprisingly, many students think that they can get away with faking a reaction paper from online summaries and reviews. Remember: Your instructor also has access to online summaries and reviews and has likely already read them. You don’t want your instructor to recognize someone else’s ideas in your work. Instead, you want to be sure that you have something original to say.
The best practice when writing a reaction paper is to read or watch the assigned material twice, the first time to get an overall impression of it and the second time to carefully review it, analyze it, and take notes to use in writing your response paper.
Once you are completely familiar with the material you need to respond to in your response paper, you can begin the writing process.
8 Steps for Writing a Response Paper
There are a number of steps in writing a response paper in college, each of which will help you turn your impression about the assigned viewing or reading into a finished essay. Here is where to begin as you start the process of writing a response paper:
- Identify the work in question. Every response paper needs to clearly identify the work you are responding to. That means identifying the author, title, year of publication, and publication information for written works or the director/producer, title, year of release, and other relevant information for audio or video works.
- Summarize or describe the work. The next step is to describe the work and tell the audience briefly what the work is about. Don’t assume that the reader has seen the work under analysis. Your summary should give a concise description of the work you are responding to along with any relevant details that you will use for your analysis.
- Use direct quotes where relevant. Quote directly from the work where relevant to provide key information or specific language that you will be using in your response and analysis.
- Keep your summary objective, neutral, and balanced. Your summary should not contain your opinion—that’s for the response portion. Here, you want to provide a neutral and objective summary that simply describes without evaluating. It should also be balanced, meaning that you provide relatively equal coverage of each part of the work rather than focusing too heavily on just one part or omitting any relevant sections.
- Consider using a writing service. Writing a reaction paper can be hard, and many students will say, “I need help to find someone to write my paper for me!” Finding the right online expert to help you write your paper isn’t easy to do, but when you find an expert to create a response paper for you, you can see how a professional would approach your specific work and can use their model reaction to help guide you to important points you should be highlighting in your own response paper.
- After summarizing, begin your response. The summary should only be a small part of your response paper (typically a third or less). Once you have informed your reader about the work under consideration, you can begin discussing your response to it. This is where your opinion comes into play.
- A response is not simply an analysis. A response to a work isn’t the same as formal analytical criticism. Your goal in a response paper is less to apply theory to the work in question than to describe the emotions that the work sparks in you. You might, for example, talk about how the work made you feel or how effective you found it. You might also relate the work to key themes and ideas from course lectures and the textbook to show that you are drawing connections between the assignment and course content. It can also be beneficial to consider whether the work has expanded or changed your perspective on an issue. For example, you might discuss how you thought about an issue before reading or viewing the work and how your thoughts differed after you finished the work.
- Explain whether you recommend the work. Most response papers will end with the student explaining whether you recommend the work to others and why. It can be beneficial to offer a few words about the importance of the work as part of your evaluation of its merit.
Wrapping Up about Writing Response Papers
It is important you remember the key goal of the response paper — to prove to your professor that you have finished a particular reading or other similar assignment. That means you don’t want to procrastinate on this task, try to be super creative, reach for the stars, etc. All you want to do is to make sure the job is done, and your paper is neat and well-edited. If necessary, use professional editing and proofreading applications, such as Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway and others – it is better to pay very little money for subscription to those than waste time on redoing your editing all over again. The problem with a response paper is that you need to spend time twice — first, to finish the assigned reading, second — to do the busy work of “reporting” on what you have read. However, it has its perks. Writing any other paper you still need to spend time on research, so in case with a response paper, you can count the pre-reading part — your research stage. Also, writing a response paper is just like writing conclusions — you already know all there is to know about the topic and need to put it in order, no frills.