Summary/Response Essay


Instructions for Summary / Response Essay

Summary/Response Essay

Assignment Description

For this essay, you should select an article from the “Readings” folder in this unit and summarize/respond to it in a formal essay. The summary/response essay asks you first to summarize the main points of the article and to respond to those points by agreeing, disagreeing, or agreeing with some but not all of the arguments made in the article. You should include evidence (from the article, from your own reasoning, from examples, from experiences, etc.) to support your response.

Due Dates

Please refer to the calendar due dates. Please remember the peer review is a separate grade and has separate due dates.

Purpose and Learning Objectives

The purpose of writing a response paper is to encourage you to read actively and to evaluate the selected articles critically. While it is possible to read an article just once and gain an understanding of the main idea, much of the depth and nuance of the article will only be discovered after multiple readings.  Moreover, your grasp of the ideas and concepts presented in the article will remain superficial until you apply those ideas and concepts in your own writing. As you write, you should practice making clear claims about the material youre writing about and should practice supporting those claims with evidence from the text and from your own reasoning about the subject.

Minimum Requirements

  • 600- 900 words  (approx. 2-3 pages)
  • An interesting and informative title
  • MLA format with in-text citations and works cited page
  • An introductory paragraph that tells readers what article you are responding to and that includes a thesis statement
  • One or more paragraphs that summarize the article
  • One or more paragraphs that respond to the article
  • A conclusion paragraph that wraps up the main ideas in the essay

You should not expect to earn a grade higher than a 60% if you do not meet the minimum requirements.

Process for Completion

  1. The first step in writing a good response paper is to actively read the article assigned. Active reading means consciously identifying the thesis, purpose, audience, and tone.  It means determining what main points the author is trying to convey with his or her article.
  2. Next, it might help to construct an outline or graphic organizer that will help you visualize the claims and the evidence supporting those claims. Once you have a firm understanding of the article, start formulating your response by asking questions:
    1. What do I really think about this topic? Why do I think that?
    2. Do I disagree with any points being made? Why?
    3. Do I agree with any points? Why?
    4. Can I think of additional examples or evidence that support or refute the author’s claims?
    5. Can I connect something in the article to my own personal experience?
    6. Can I apply the ideas presented in the article to some other subject?  
  3. At this point, you should start to formulate your response. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, start drafting your essay.
    1. The introduction should clearly identify the author and article youre summarizing. It may include a bit of brief summary to show what the main point of the article is. It should include a thesis statement that presents your response to the article.
    2. The body paragraphs should begin with a summary of the article that you’ve chosen (one or two paragraphs). Be sure to accurately represent the ideas and arguments from the source. Next, you should develop your response (between one and three paragraphs), usually with a statement of agreement or disagreement, followed by your reasons, examples, and evidence. Remember that the purpose of a response paper is to add your own voice to the mix, to join the conversation.  I want to read your reactions, your interpretations, and your opinions. Take this opportunity to develop your own voice.
    3. The conclusion paragraph should reinforce the ideas you stated in the essay.
  4. Once youve drafted your paper, go back and review how youve organized your paragraphs (do they have topic sentences?) and integrated evidence (all quotes should be seamlessly incorporated into your own sentences).
  5. When youre happy with your draft, you should complete the peer review process to get feedback on your writing.
  6. After you have read the feedback provided by your peers, continue revising and editing your draft.  You might find that some comments are more helpful than others. You are not obliged to take anyone’s advice, but you should at least consider every suggestion. When you are comfortable that the essay is in good shape, upload it to eCampus. The final draft will automatically be sent through “Safe Assign,” which is an originality checker used to help identify plagiarism.


Plagiarism is using someone elses words or ideas without giving credit and is a serious academic offense.  It can range from:

  • Turning in a paper any part of which you did not write, 
  • Cutting and pasting a paper together from various sources without attributing the sources correctly,
  • Changing a few words but basically keeping most of the words and sentence structure of the original,
  • Using the ideas of another without giving credit to the person who originally had the idea.
  • Using the exact words of the source without using quotation marks even if you give the name of the source.

Refer to the syllabus for consequences of plagiarism in this class. For more information, see

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