Response paper

A response paper (sometimes called a reaction paper) is a short essay which conveys the writer's reaction to one or several texts. This kind of assignment is usually given to students after they have read a number of articles or a work of fiction.

Although the key words here are response and reaction, you are usually not expected to share your personal or emotional response but rather to provide a critical response to the text(s) you have been assigned to read.

Note that response papers are not reviews; you will usually not be expected to evaluate the text(s) that you write about. Instead, the response paper is a kind of critical reading of a specific aspect of one or several texts. Response papers may or may not require the use of additional sources.

Structure of response paper

A response paper is often structured according to the three-part essay model:

Introductory partHere you introduce the text(s) that you have read and state
what you will focus on. Make sure you know if you are
expected to provide a short summary of the text(s) you
discuss or not.
Body partHere you bring up the specific issue(s) you have chosen to
respond to. Depending on the format, the body part can be
structured thematically or in some other way.
Concluding partHere you sum up the argument (the 'response' to the
text(s) that you have read).

For more info about three-part essay structure, see


Hands-on advice on how to write a response paper

For step-by-step instructions on how to write a response paper, see

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