You have been asked to read an article and work on a reaction paper. “That should be easy,” you think to yourself. Well, while writing a reaction or response paper might sound like cakewalk, there is a lot more to this assignment than meets the eye.
The purpose behind reaction papers is to make you analyze a piece of work, be it a book, film, article or TV show.
You are not just expected to share your views on the material but also explore implications of the ideas stated, critique it and justify your statements. Remember — by the end of the assignment, you will be judged on your critical thinking and writing skills.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to write a reaction paper to an article along with a reaction paper example to get you started.
What are the Parts of a Reaction Paper to an Article?
Every writing assignment should begin with creating an outline. It makes for a good writing practice because it helps you organize your thoughts and ensure the paper flows in a logical manner.
The same holds true when you’re writing a reaction paper to an article.
Typically, a reaction paper is a five-paragraph structure which includes the introduction, body and conclusion. You’re expected to devote one paragraph to the introduction and conclusion each and at least three paragraphs to the body.
Before we talk about how to write a reaction paper to an article, let’s understand what the three key parts of a reaction paper are and what they should include.
It’s safe to say that introductions lay the foundation for the rest of the paper. Being the first section that people will read, it needs to capture attention and generate interest in them to read further.
Now, how do you start a reaction paper? The most effective way to start is with a strong hook. Limited to one to two sentences, a catchy hook grabs attention and engages readers. It can be in the form of a quote, statistic, rhetorical question, or anecdote among others.
The purpose of this section is to describe the article and author you are discussing or sharing your reaction on. It’s also a good idea to include the date of publication for additional context.
You can then proceed to writing a crisp summary of the article while highlighting the main points of the article. Don’t share your reaction in this paragraph because this section is meant to be informative and offer context to the reader.
The introduction needs to end with a brief thesis statement which includes the key points you will be analyzing and the core idea of the reaction paper.
The body paragraphs are where you will start getting into the details and doing an elaborate analysis of the article.
It’s important to structure the body well such that your reaction paper flows logically and transitions smoothly. A rule of thumb to follow is to devote one idea to one paragraph. Each paragraph should tie back and re-affirm the thesis statement you formulated.
A good way to approach this is by making a list of the main points you want to include and work backwards by mapping evidence in the form of quotations and examples to each of those points.
If your instructor has given a specific prompt, make sure the reaction paper covers it accurately in the given word count.
The analysis is done — you’ve elaborated on your points and backed it up with supporting evidence. The purpose of the conclusion is to reinstate the thesis statement while summarizing the main points you analyzed in the body paragraphs.
While writing the conclusion for a reaction paper to an article, you’re expected to conclude with your opinion on the subject in question. Remember — a strong conclusion ties the entire paper together without repeating the statements or introducing new details.
7 Useful Tips on How to Write a Reaction Paper to an Article
The best part about reaction or response papers is that they push you to pause, reflect and analyze an article or any other piece of work. They give you the chance to express your personal opinions while doing deep analysis.
However, a common mistake students make while writing reaction papers on articles is that they end up summarizing them. This is a recipe for disaster and never goes down well.
So, how do you write a reaction paper to an article? Here are seven tips to help you write an outstanding reaction paper.
1. Understand the assignment
Not all reaction papers ask of the same thing. While some are open-ended and give students the flexibility to decide the course of the paper, there are reaction paper assignments surrounding specific questions. For instance, your professor might want your opinion on a particular issue in the article or might want you to critique the author’s work.
Hence, before you begin reading the article, it’s important to wholly understand what is expected of you. If you are unsure, clarify your doubts so you don’t ramble on without purpose and stick to the guidelines and word count.
2. Make notes while reading
Reading the article once is never enough. The more thorough you are with the material; stronger your reaction paper will be.
Every time you read it, it is a good idea to approach it with a purpose. The first time you get to it, you can focus on understanding the story after which you can begin paying attention to factors that are related to your reaction paper question.
Read with utmost attentiveness and make notes by the side – it can be your initial reactions, highlighting significant occurrences or collating evidence.
3. Do a prewriting exercise
So you’ve read the article multiple times. Before you rush to begin writing the reaction paper, it’s a good idea to do a quick prewriting exercise.
This is a great way to brainstorm and generate ideas. It involves doing a brain dump and jotting down your initial reactions to the article. At this stage, don’t worry about polishing or organizing — all that can wait.
What’s important is documenting every little idea, insight or reaction that comes to your mind. Once you’ve listed them down, you can group common ideas together, create an outline and categorize those ideas.
Doing this simple yet important exercise will help you think clearly while ensuring you don’t miss out on any important point.
4. Think critically
Reaction papers push you to think critically. In order to flesh out the material, you need to start with asking yourself pertinent questions such as:
- How do I feel after reading the article?
- Do I agree with the author?
- Do I relate to the main character?
- What do I disagree with?
- Has the article changed my perspective?
- What are the assumptions made?
These are just a few examples of questions you can consider while working on the paper. The more questions you ask, the better you will be able to evaluate the material which will in turn get translated in your writing.
Here’s an informative video by Ted Ed on how you can improve your critical thinking skills
5. Formulate the thesis statement
Once you establish your point of view and the route you want your paper to take, you must formulate the thesis statement – it forms the backbone of the reaction paper.
The thesis statement describes the central idea that you will be proving in the course of the paper. It needs to appear towards the end of the introduction and be crisp. It’s alright if you don’t have a final statement, even a working thesis statement is good enough for starters. You can always polish it later.
6. Emphasize on analysis (not facts)
Another common mistake students make is stating facts and the obvious instead of focussing on their analysis and opinion on the article.
Not only is this a waste of word count, it indicates that you’ve clearly missed the point of a reaction paper. Your instructor wants to know your personal opinion and evaluation of the article and not a summary or what the article comprises of.
How do you make the difference out?
Facts refer to objective pieces of information which are already proven. Opinions and analysis include your take on the subject. While there is no right or wrong opinion, what’s important is using strong evidence to back that opinion.
7. Include supporting examples
Statements like “I don’t agree with the author” or “I think the article could have focused more on XYZ” are certainly not enough while writing a reaction paper.
You need to justify every statement you make with the available evidence in the article. This can be in the form of quotes or statements that support your point of view. So, back your views up with strong examples in order to strengthen your paper and convince the reader.
Write a Reaction Paper to an Article Successfully: The Takeaway
There is quite a lot of confusion surrounding reaction papers which might get students confused on how to approach this assignment.
If you too are stuck and are asking, “can someone write my reaction paper on an article?”.
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Whether it is a book, movie, article, speech or any other piece of content, we at Writers Per Hour are experts at writing reaction papers for high school, college and university students.
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