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You may have been asked by an instructor to watch a film, read an article or a book and to write a response paper recording your reaction to the material. In such reports, you will be expected to do two main things: first, to summarize the material and then to detail your reaction to it. Below is how to write both parts of your response or reaction paper.

SUMMARY

Do the following to develop the summary which is the first part of your report:
  • Identify the title of the work and the author and then include the book publisher and the publication date in parentheses. State the date of publication if you’re reacting to a magazine.
  • Now write a summary of the material, ensuring it’s informative.
  • Summarize the content by highlighting the main points and the key supporting points only in a meaningful way so that your reader gets a general feel of all main aspects of the original work.
  • Using direct quotations, illustrate important ideas from the work.
  • Don’t be tempted to discuss in detail or focus on an aspect of the work, while neglecting the other equally important aspects.
  • Don’t include your personal reaction to the work in this first part of the paper. Your subjective opinion will form the main basis of the second part of your report.
  • Finally, keep your summary as factual and as objective as possible.

YOUR SUBJECTIVE REACTION TO THE WORK

Do the following in this second part of your report:
  • Check if your instructor wants you to emphasize certain points. Then focus on the questions below.
  • How is the assignment related to the course for which you are preparing the reaction paper?
  • How is it related to problems in the present-day world?
  • How can you relate the material to your own life and past experiences? For example, what emotions did the assignment stir up in you?
  • Did the work increase your understanding or change your perspective of a particular issue?
  • Evaluate the work i.e. how valid the points are, its accuracy, organization, etc.
  • You can also state here whether you would recommend the work to others or not, and why.

POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN WRITING A REACTION PAPER

  • Write coherently and error-free
  • Ensure each main paragraph focuses on a single main point.
  • Support any reaction or points you make with details and specific reasons. Not generic statements like "I found the book very interesting" without specific evidence that details why you feel so.
  • Organize your material into a summary of one or more paragraphs, a reaction of two or more paragraphs, and a conclusion. Also, transition properly between the paragraphs
  • Edit your report carefully for grammatical errors, spellings and punctuation.
  • Include citations or quotes from the material you’re writing about, or from any other works, using appropriate referencing style. You may consult with your instructor to determine what referencing style is required.
  • Incorporate publishing information parenthetically or in a footnote at the bottom of the page.
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