Steps for Writing a Reaction Paper with Tips and a Samples

What is a reaction paper or response paper?


A reaction paper is a type of writing where one is required to provide their personal opinion or conclusions regarding a story or another piece of writing like an article, a TV show, a film, or a book. It aims at elucidating the personal thoughts of the author about the original story. As one of the significant academic writing, a reaction or response paper aims to evaluate or examine the student’s understanding of the story and their analytical skills. It seeks to answer the following questions:

●What is your feeling about the topic or subject?

●Do you disagree or agree with the author’s argument?

●Does the story relate to you in any way?

●How would you best evaluate the story?


Difference and similarities between reaction paper and literature review or article review paper


It is important to note that although there exist some similarities between a reaction paper and a literature or article review paper, the two should not be confused to mean the same thing. Here are some of the similarities and differences



●Both article review and reaction paper involves analysis of a story to understand the author’s perspective

●Both involve providing a summary of the original story



●An article review is concerned with analyzing a story to give reasonable criticism while a reaction or response paper is concerned with analyzing the original story to give a personal opinion based on one’s experiences, feelings, and ideas towards the subject

●An article review is concerned with giving criticism based on established facts while a reaction paper is concerned with giving a response to the author’s arguments based on opinions.

Organization of the reaction essay

Having a clear outline is vital to composing an organized paper. It helps one organize their thoughts to achieve a logical flow. This applies to a reaction or a response paper. Similar to many types of assignments, a reaction paper consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. Below are the sections discussed in detail.



Introduction section of the paper acts as a foundation for both the reader and the writer. For the writer, it lays a foundation upon which they develop arguments for the body section and as a point of reference for the body and conclusion parts of the paper. To the reader, the introduction gives them an idea or a picture of what the author intends to talk about.

To introduce your reaction paper, it is important that you start with a strong hook that grabs the reader’s attention. This can be one or two sentences composed in form of a rhetorical question, a quote, anecdote, or a statistic. The aim of the introduction is to give a short description of the author of the article or your reaction as well as mentioning the date of publication. The introduction should end with a thesis statement stating the main point of reaction and the key points you intend to analyze.

The introduction section should also provide a brief summary of the story highlighting the main points and short explanations of the supporting arguments. The summary can also include direct quotes that may be relevant to the reaction.



The body section contains a detailed and in-depth analysis of the article or text. This is where you provide an elaborate analysis of the story accompanied by your reaction. Illustrate your opinions on the main arguments in the original story and support them with reliable sources. Your reaction can be in form of a response to emotions the story evokes in you, how the arguments relate to a real-life situation, or how the arguments support your belief or perspective on a particular subject.

The best approach to write the body section is to identify the main arguments you intend to react to then go back to the material or search for supporting evidence. In some cases, the instructor may provide a specific prompt to guide your response. I such a case, it is important to follow the prompt accurately.



The conclusion section of your paper is where you reiterate your thesis statement and give a summary of key points discussed in the body. The conclusion is also where to take a stance regarding the story and whether you would recommend it to others while giving reasons for the same. You should ensure that the conclusion does not introduce new information or repeat the entire paper.

Process of writing a reaction paper

Understand the assignment

The first step to writing an effective reaction or response essay is to understand what the instructor expects of you. This is because the assignment prompts vary based on the instructor’s objective. For example, some may ask you to give a general reaction to a story while some may restrict your reaction to specific parts of the story or based on a particular subject. You can ask for clarification from the instructor if in doubt of the instructions.

Read and take notes

The second step to writing your reaction paper is to read or watch the story with a purpose. Read or watch the story repeatedly to understand it fully to help you provide an objective reaction. After the first reading, you can start by noting down the key points presented by the author by focusing on the points vital to your reaction paper.

Brainstorm the ideas

Having read and understood the story, start brainstorming and generating ideas as your reactions to the story. Develop a rough draft of your ideas as you brainstorm to guide your final writing. You can then try to categorize the ideas and develop an outline on how they will flow logically in the final reaction paper.

Create a thesis statement

Armed with a clear outline for your paper, create a thesis statement as a basis for your writing. It serves as the backbone of your paper upon which you will develop arguments to prove.

Focus on constructive analysis

As you embark on writing the body of your essay, focus on your analysis and opinion on the story. A summary of the story should only take a small portion of the paper, your main focus should be on the evaluation of the story and giving your personal opinion. It is also advisable that you avoid stating facts that are proven pieces of information and focus more on opinions that are your take on the subject backed by strong evidence.

Supporting evidence


Lastly, as you develop your arguments and opinions on the subject, it is important to justify them with the available evidence. For example, if you say that you don’t agree with the author, provide an alternative argument supported by evidence. Additionally, you can use direct quotes from the story to support your arguments or object to particular perspectives.

Tips for writing a reaction paper

Here is a summary of the steps for writing a reaction paper with tips: the reaction paper should contain two sections: the summary and the reaction section.


The following should be considered in writing the summary:

  1. Identify the author and title of the story as well as the publication data if applicable
  2. Make the summary as informative as possible
  3. Use direction quotations to clarify key ideas
  4. Condense the story by focusing on the main points
  5. Make the reader understand the main arguments in the story
  6. Make the summary objective and avoid a detailed description of a point

The reaction

The following should be considered in writing the reaction section:

  1. Evaluate how the story is related to the course work
  2. Evaluate the relationship between the story and present-day problems
  3. Evaluate how the story is related to your personal experiences or feelings
  4. Evaluate how the story affects your understanding of a subject
  5. Examine the merit of the work and whether you would recommend it to others


Sample of a reaction paper

Noel Sharkey, the author of an article "The Ethical Frontiers of Robotics,” is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield. From his academic and professional work as a Computer Science professor, he is knowledgeable on robotics that mimics the human behavior. Apart from his radio and television discussions on robotics, Sharkey’s article explores the ethical issues arising from the development of robots, especially autonomous ones. Moreover, the author highlights the types of robots that raise ethical questions, particularly the machines used in war and the ones caring for humans. Further, he emphasized the need to control the development and application of robots unless serious considerations are made about the design and the use of robotics technology. Categorically, the article highlights that it is crucial for computer scientists to take into account the serious impacts arising from the use of this innovation. Consequently, the source is enlightening on the ethical issues that scientists and users of these devices have not considered adequately because more sophisticated robotics technologies are developed.

Response Section

According to Sharkey, the rise in demand for personal and professional services robots has led to their design and development without questioning the policy and social guidelines needed to manage the field. The requirement for this innovation is driven by more than one million industries that use these devices to do dangerous and dirty duties such as cleaning windows. Moreover, the realization that robots can take either dangerous or tedious tasks has led to a rapid demand for their services. This is evident from the fact that starting from 2008, there were more than 5.5 million personal and professional services robots in use (Sharkey, 2008). The second factor driving the demand for the innovation is the reduction in the costs of the technology, considering that from 2006, robots were 80 percent cheaper than the ones produced in the 1990s. Unfortunately, the two factors have driven the high use and production of these devices without the formulation of national and international guidelines needed to check the impact of robotics. The evidence proves that there are no international codes of ethics or laws on children’s rights which can ensure that the innovation is not counterproductive. In response to the void uncovered by Sharkey (2008) on the right or wrong uses of robots in caring for children, it is crucial that national and international community addresses the resultant ethical issues and potential problems. Therefore, there is a dare need to treat the matter with urgency and proper policies enacted.

Using robots in the delivery of care services may trigger problems that need further exploration, especially the risk of affecting the social development of children. In the article, Sharkey clarified that the studies on the early care of monkeys showed that allowing the animals to develop attachment only to inanimate objects affected their social development. Applying the findings to the current usage of robots in caring for children leads to the conclusion that the practice may be counterproductive as it could affect the social and psychological development of kids (Sharkey, 2008). In response to the view, it is important for the innovators and child development scholars to gather evidence-based data to guide the usage of such toys, especially in the child care. Furthermore, in light of the conclusions made in the article, one personal view is that the development and acquisition of language can be badly impaired in children in the future if they do not learn it from other humans. The risks arising from the child care by robots are similarly reflected in the use of the technology in war as discussed in the next section.

To some extent, robots applications in military have been eminent. However, the position taken by the article is that machines should not be used to substitute human participation in a warfare. Notably, the applications of robotics in war include surveillance and bomb detonation, but the risks arising from their involvement are deaths of innocent people. In essence, for the typical roles of bomb explosion or surveillance work, all robots should be manned by humans to avoid unintended effects. Nonetheless, it is surprising that national and international communities have not considered the past problems experienced with these devices in warfare. It is worth noting that in order to tap the full potential of the innovation on battle fields, proper policies that guide its application should be laid out.


Sharkey is an expert in robotics, and therefore, his article is informative on this theme. It clarifies the ethical issues that the innovators of the devices and users have ignored while the technology becomes more sophisticated everyday. Regarding the use of the machines in the care of children and in war, it is worth noting that there is a need to develop the necessary policies and laws. Moreover, the application of robotics in child care should be further investigated to understand clearly whether it affects the social development of kids. In light of the use of the devices on battle fields, it is evident that human should conduct and control the robots in order to eliminate the risks arising from the technology.


Sharkey, N. (2008). The ethical frontiers of robotics. Science, 322(5909), 1800-1801.

Retrieved from http://science.sciencemag.org/content/322/5909/1800.full


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