How to Write Reaction Paper Essay

You will need to do the reading assignments in order to do the Reaction Papers assignments (RPs). Whenever an RP is assigned, the assignment is to write a two-page paper (it can’t be only barely two pages, but it can be more than two pages) that covers at least one of the readings assigned for that week. The paper should do the following:

1) Summarize the main point of the reading (what it is about) in 1-2 paragraphs and then summarize a specific part of it in 1-2 paragraphs. The summary should paraphrase. No quotations are allowed. I will deduct points if you quote and you will get a 0 if you plagiarize.

2) After the summary, in 2-4 paragraphs, you should critically reflect on the part of the reading you focused on. Relate that specific part of the reading to:

  1. a) its possible implications for understanding some aspect of human nature (e.g., how memory works) or an important social issue (e.g., anti-science sentiment in the US);


  1. b) something you have read elsewhere, personally experienced, witnessed, thought about, or read about (cite the source if it is something you read) at some time in your life;


  1. c) your critique the reading, if you can provide a strong argument for why readers should be skeptical about the evidence, main argument, or theory presented. This goes beyond the type of critical reflect described above. It is basically saying that the reading is wrong in some way. It is a risky path to take because it can be a spectacular failure if you don’t have some expertise in the subject matter, but it can be good practice for those who plan to go to graduate school.

3) Cite the reading, both in text and in a full reference citation at the end of the paper (reference citation does not have to be on a separate page). Use proper APA style to do your in-text and reference citations; since you probably took PSYC 2010 before the 7th Edition APA Manual came out, I will accept either 6th edition or 7th edition APA style. Be sure that it is clear at all times which statements in your paper are paraphrased ideas from the reading, which statements come from other sources (if applicable), and which statements are your own views. I have made a TurnItIn Check folder available to help you catch word overlaps, but that only catches places where you did not paraphrase well enough to make the wording your own. It does not catch the kind of plagiarism where someone fails to cite the sources of their ideas. Only your own careful proofreading can prevent that type of plagiarism. You should definitely take the time to do that, because you can be sure that I will be watching for that type of plagiarism too.


I will add some more clarification to the above guidelines here. First, you should do justice to both the summary part of the paper and the critical reflection part. That means that roughly half of your paper should summarize the reading and roughly half of it should be the critical reflection part. Second, in focusing on a specific part of the reading in your summary, do not just list random details. The part you focus on should be a key part of the reading. Third, make sure your critical reflection is clearly relevant to the part of the reading you focused on in your summary. Don’t just ramble.

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