Composing an Academic Response

Good Summary

  • Concise
  • Complete
  • Objective
  • Accurate
  • Coherent

Author’s Assumptions

  • Explicit opinions: What is bluntly stated by the author.
  • Statements of fact/truth: What must be assumed to accept the selected facts?
  • Any biases or prejudices expressed or implied.

Responding to Opinions

  • To what does the expressed opinion relate?
  • What is the conflict?
    • Why is there a conflict?
    • Is it significant? To whom and why?
  • Why is this important to respond to?
    • For yourself?
    • For others?

Good Response

  • Thoughtful
  • Accurate
  • Coherent within the context of the original readings
  • Unified internally

Structure of a Response

  • Introduction
  • Summary of readings
  • Your assertions and supporting evidence
  • Conclusion

Evaluating a Response

  • Reacts based on knowledge and experience
  • Explains limits and implications of the reading
  • Informs readers about the significance of the reading
  • Extends the meaning of the reading

Sample Structures

  • Question … possible answers … “best” answer
  • Line of argument: Claim … evidence … reasoning … extending audience views
  • Line of argument: Claim … counterargument … evidence … reasoning … contradicting audience
  • Compare and/or Contrast
  • Situation … cause … effect … future consequences
  • Phenomenon … possible causes … likely cause … explanation
  • Definition of a new concept
  • Classification or reclassification of a concept
  • Sequence of events
  • Details about an item or event



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Writer: C. S. Wyatt
Updated: 08-Mar-2017
Editor: S. D. Schnelbach