How to Write a Response Paper in College: An Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

In the Faculty of Philology and the Faculty of Journalism, a type of academic work named a response paper is quite popular. It can be written on any creative product: a play, a movie, or computer game. Besides, such text can describe various scientific works: coursework, diploma, academic theses, monographs, and manuals.

Still, the most common is a book response paper. In this article, we collected the most effective response paper guidelines to make your writing much easier.

Question #1: What Is a Response Paper?

The response paper reflects the student’s subjective view of the content of the product. To do so, students subject it to critical analysis.

When writing such work, the student sets out a personal vision of the work, so any response paper is primarily a creative genre. Nevertheless, there are certain rules for writing it.

For example, it should include the student’s findings supported by arguments and analysis using different criteria.

If possible, the student should be able to evaluate the work objectively. Even if one does not like the product, this should not prevent one from fair evaluating a really good work.

One of the basic rules of writing a response paper is first to acquaint himself with the work. No superficial knowledge will work here! Otherwise, the paper will not be credible and objective. This is what every author should strive for.

Question #2: How to Start a Response Paper?

A response paper is a critical analysis and assessment of a product, and it should be written in a scientific or publicist style. The main feature is that the evaluation of what is read or seen must be reasoned. As the arguments can serve:

  • Quotes;
  • Corroboration from other sources;
  • Expert opinions;
  • Facts from personal experience (if any).

Therefore, before starting to write a response paper, be sure to get acquainted with the product. The study of the short content is not enough for a good response paper. Only a deep knowledge of the key points will make it possible to form a fair assessment and corroborate it with evidence.

Tip: Before writing a response paper, do not read others’ texts on the same topic. Try to keep a clean and unbiased perception.

Question #3: How to Structure a Response Paper?

The response paper writing process is extremely creative. Despite this, the text must be structured. Thus, it is recommended that a preliminary plan be drawn up. Such a plan includes the following points:

  • Introductions.
  • Presentation of the main idea of the work to respond.
  • Critical analysis of the product.
  • Conclusion.

Let’s consider what each section of the response paper should include in more detail.

In the introduction, you should include short data about the product. For example, for a book, this may be information about the author, its name, year of its publication, genre, etc.

Next, you should move on to the presentation of the key idea of the product. Here, it is recommended to describe its plot in a few sentences to give the reader a general idea of the response paper. In this section, you should not use your thoughts and reasoning. Save this for a critical section. First, describe the main message of the product.

It is time to describe the impression that the product made on you.

In the critical part, the work to respond should be carefully analyzed. First of all, it is recommended to indicate how the name reflects its contents.

Go on to a more detailed analysis. State whether there are errors and inaccuracies (if any). Evaluate the product. To do this, answer the following questions:

  • Does the title match the content?
  • What are the advantages of work to respond?
  • For which audience is it primarily intended for?
  • How original is the product?

At the end of the response paper, a conclusion must be given. By way of conclusion, the reader may be called to know the product in more detail (if it’s worth it).

Question #4: How to End a Response Paper?

Any student’s work requires conclusions. The conclusion in the response paper is essentially similar to the conclusion in other writings – for example, in the coursework:

  • The conclusion of the response paper should be based on the facts and arguments presented in the main part of the work, the positions considered by scientists, and the results of experiments (if any).
  • The final part of the response paper should agree with the elements of the expert opinion given in the text (if any).
  • The conclusion of the response paper should not contain fundamentally new facts – only a generalization of those, as mentioned earlier.
  • The conclusion style must correspond to the style of the entire work. If the work is written in a scientific style, do not add bright publicist means to the conclusion. Otherwise, it will look foreign, artificially attached, rather than an organic continuation. The conclusion should also have the same style if scientifically, the response paper was performed in a publicist style.
  • The method of writing the conclusions must be chosen long before the work is finished – preferably even before the text begins.

In the process of writing the main part, draft ideas for the ending. Imagine the reader asking the question: “So what?” Explain using a conclusion why all the text was written. Try to make your reader more aware of your work. Not just mechanically repeat what you said before in the main body, but awake in the reader a wish to answer, agree, argue or share the experience.

Question #5: How to Write a Good Response Paper?

Before you write a response paper, check whether you have information to complete all the structural elements of the work:

  • Authorship data.
  • Quotations describing the subject matter of the author’s idea.
  • A corroborated by personal evidence opinion on the product.

To include all relevant parts in the response paper, we recommend reviewing the product several times. This way, you will highlight the main points and select the necessary material to prove your position.

In the writing of a response paper, as in any other work, there are some specifics.

Let’s bring up the main ones of them.

Before starting the work, it is necessary to decide on the style of the work. Will it be an external analysis or a discussion with the author?

Remember that a response paper is often a critical look at a product. Therefore, to not use other people’s thoughts, one should not read other similar material on the subject before writing it.

Even if your opinion is fundamentally different, do not be afraid to speak it out! On the contrary, your position will be unique and original. This will highlight your work from other response papers. However, it’s all about being able to argue your point of view. The more original it is, the more arguments you have to make for success.

Keep in mind that you should have even better knowledge of the subject when writing a negative response paper. Therefore, writing a negative response paper is more difficult than a positive one: the negative position must be carefully justified. Still, the more interesting the text will be.

Often it happens that the author’s subjective opinion prevents writing a positive response paper, so do not forget to be objective. Although you should express your personal opinion, it should not prevent you from valuing the work to respond properly. For example, if you see a very good job, but you do not like it for some reason, you must have the strength to admit its strong sides.

Do not forget to write concisely. It will help the reader understand your text better.

Question #6: How to Write a Critical Response Paper?

The main task of the critical response paper is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the scientific article (or any other product) in terms of its “pros” and “cons” and making reasoned comments or recommendations on the product being analyzed.

To properly write a critical response paper, we advise you to stick to the following plan:

  • Description (title, author, your previous experience, publication year).
  • A brief retelling of the contents.
  • Product features.
  • Personal impressions from it.
  • The reasoning behind these impressions and experiences.
  • Main advantages.
  • Conclusions.

These are the main items in the critical response paper plan, but they can be supplemented with additional ones if desired. For example, compare the product under analysis with the author’s previous work or with similar products connected with the same topic.

Question #7: What Are the Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Paper?

To write a good response paper that will be of interest to other readers, follow a few rules:

  • Analyze the product carefully, preferably 2 or 3 times (yes, we already talked about this, but this is of great importance).
  • Confirm your personal opinion with facts.
  • Form the clear final assessment, do not confuse the reader with uncertainty.
  • Analyze a specific product, not all of the author’s work as a whole.
  • Indicate the target audience.
  • Do not make grammatical mistakes, carefully check the material you have written.
  • A common mistake is excessive subjectivity. To prevent this, adhere to the following recommendations:
  • Do not try to perform a response paper on a theme that you do not understand.
  • Remember – your main task is to do the analysis.
  • Give a sufficient number of arguments, do not replace them with emotions.

Avoid slang words and use neutral vocabulary. Remember that you are writing a response paper and therefore do not touch the identity of the author. Do not let personal opinion influence your work.

Question #8: What’s Next?

Writing a response paper is not an easy task. It will take a lot of work to spend a lot of time inside the library, rewriting and reworking already made material. However, even detailed work does not guarantee the perfect result because mistakes can be made anywhere.

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