A response paper is a short essay which conveys the writer's reaction to one or several texts that he or she has read. This kind of assignment is usually given to students after they have read a number of articles, or a work of fiction.
A response paper is often structured in the following way:
- In the introduction, the book(s)/article(s), etc. that has been read is introduced and the focus of the response paper is stated
- In the Body, one or several specific issues are brought up for examination
- In the Conclusion, the argument (the 'response' to the texts that have been read) is summed up and some conclusion is offered
Depending on the teacher's instructions, response papers may or may not require the use of external sources.
Note that response papers are not reviews; the writer is not supposed to offer a value statement on the text that is being discussed. Instead, the response paper (which is sometimes called 'reaction paper') is a kind of critical close reading of a specific aspect of one or several texts.