Writing Effective Summary and Response Essays
A summary is a concise paraphrase of all the main ideas in an essay. It cites the author and the title (usually in the first sentence); it contains the essay's thesis and supporting ideas; it may use direct quotation of forceful or concise statements of the author's ideas; it will NOT usually cite the author's examples or supporting details unless they are central to the main idea. Most summaries present the major points in the order that the author made them and continually refer back to the article being summarized (i.e. "Damon argues that ..." or "Goodman also points out that ... "). The summary should take up no more than one-third the length of the work being summarized.
A response is a critique or evaluation of the author's essay. Unlike the summary, it is composed of YOUR opinions in relation to the article being summarized. It examines ideas that you agree or disagree with and identifies the essay's strengths and weaknesses in reasoning and logic, in quality of supporting examples, and in organization and style. A good response is persuasive; therefore, it should cite facts, examples, and personal experience that either refutes or supports the article you're responding to, depending on your stance.
Two Typical Organizational Formats for Summary/Response Essays:
1. Present the summary in a block of paragraphs, followed by the response in a block:
Summary (two to three paragraphs)
Agreement (or disagreement)
Disagreement (or agreement)
Note: Some essays will incorporate both agreement and disagreement in a response, but this is not mandatory.
2. Introduce the essay with a short paragraph that includes your thesis. Then, each body paragraph summarizes one point and responds to it, and a conclusion wraps the essay up.
Summary point one; agree/disagree
Summary point two; agree/disagree
Summary point three; agree/disagree
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.Content manager:aweluluse
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