How to Write an Article Evaluation/Reaction Paper

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An article evaluation or reaction paper is a kind of academic writing that trains you to read more effectively. First, you have to completely understand the article you are evaluating. This means reading it more than once. Second, you have to be able to form your own conclusions and opinions about the author's statements. You are free to agree or disagree. Either way, you must become engaged with the text.

  • Article
  • Pencil or pen
  • Paper

1 Preparing

2 Read the article slowly and carefully

Read the article slowly and carefully. Think about the audience for this article and the author's purpose in writing it.

3 Read the article again

Read the article again, this time making notes as you go. Make note of the author's thesis, main ideas and supporting evidence.

4 Ask yourself

Ask yourself how you respond to the article as a whole and its various parts. This can be an intellectual response or an emotional response. Think about your own experiences and other articles you have read and how these relate to each other.

5 Read over your notes

Read over your notes. Be sure you know the article like the back of your hand. If you haven't already, jot down your first responses to the article.

6 Arrange your notes in the form of an outline

Arrange your notes in the form of an outline. This should be an outline of the article, with your own responses inserted at key points.

7 Organizing and Writing

8 Make an outline for your reaction paper

Make an outline for your reaction paper, which will be separate from the outline you used to arrange your article response notes. A good outline will lay the groundwork for an introduction, at least three supporting sections in the body of the paper and a conclusion. Another strategy is to mirror the structure of the article you are evaluating.

9 Fill

Fill in the details of the outline with information from your notes. For each of the body sections, decide on some aspect of the paper that you wish to comment upon. Whether you agree or disagree with the idea you present, you must back it up with evidence from the article itself.

10 Start writing the introduction

Start writing the introduction. Include basic information such as the author, title of the article and a brief content summary. Keep this short and simple.

11 Write the body paragraphs

Write the body paragraphs. Be sure that each paragraph has only one main idea and that you support this idea with evidence. Make certain that your commentary is distinct from factual information about the article.

12 Tie everything together with a conclusion

Tie everything together with a conclusion. In a few sentences, summarize your main points and your overall impression of the article. Don't leave the reader hung out to dry by not adequately concluding your paper.

13 Edit your paper

Edit your paper. Read your draft or have a friend read it. Reading out loud is actually an effective way to catch errors or awkward sentences. Be liberal with your editing. Careful editing can often turn a good paper into a great paper.

  • Be professional in your writing. This means showing respect to the author and his or her work.
  • Avoid useless sentences -- fillers that restate things you've already said or don't say anything at all. It's better to have a short paper than a long one full of disposable sentences.

Josh Patrick has several years of teaching and training experience, both in the academy and the private sector. He presented original work at the 20th Century Literature Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Patrick worked for three years on the editorial board for "Inscape," his alma mater's literary magazine. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science.