reflection paper on case study

Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example

reflection paper on case study

A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.

Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.

Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service

What Is a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.

There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.

However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .

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Free Reflection Paper Example

Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.

Reflection Paper Format

Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.

Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:

common reflection paper format

How to Start a Reflection Paper

The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.

You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.

After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:

  • How did the article affect you?
  • How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
  • Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
  • Has the article left you with any questions?
  • Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
  • Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
  • Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?

Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:

  • How my views on rap music have changed over time
  • My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
  • How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year

The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.

Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.

how to write a reflection paper

Do you want your task look awesome?

If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style

Writing a Reflection Paper Outline

Reflection paper should contain few key elements:


Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.

  • State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
  • Briefly summarize the work.
  • Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.

One way you can start your thesis is to write:

Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.

Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.

Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”

As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.

There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:

  • Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.

We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.

Need a hand? Get help from our writers. Edit, proofread or buy essay .

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: create a main theme.

After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.

For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic

You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.

For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective

Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme

Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.

For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.

Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.

For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.

Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions

Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.

There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:

  • Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
  • Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
  • Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
  • Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.

Writing Tips

Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.

Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.

  • Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
  • Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
  • Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
  • Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
  • Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.

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Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

reflection paper on case study

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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How to Write a Reflection Paper in 5 Steps (plus Template and Sample Essay)

by Kaelyn Barron | 15 comments

how to write a reflection paper blog post image

If you’ve been assigned the task of writing a reflection paper on a book you’ve read, film you’ve seen, or an event you’ve attended, you may be wondering where to start.

After all, there are few rules when it comes to writing a reflection, since it’s basically just your reaction and thoughts on the material—and all that creative freedom can be intimidating at first! But even with this lack of structure, there are steps you can take to write a reflection paper that adds value to the discussion.

What Is a Reflection Paper?

A reflection paper is a type of essay that requires you to reflect, or give your thoughts and opinions, on a certain subject or material. This type of essay is often assigned to students after they’ve read a book or watched a film.

However, it can also be written in a professional setting, often by those who study education or psychology, to reflect on an individual’s behavior. Or, you can write a reflection paper for your own purposes, to work out your thoughts and feelings on a personal subject.

If you’re a student, in most cases, you’ll be given a prompt or question to guide your reflection. Often, these assignments are completed in class, so the reflections are generally under 1,000 words. The good news is that there are on wrong answers!

However, there are things you can do to write more effective reflections that will give you (and your teachers, if applicable) more insight to your views and thought processes.

How to Write a Reflection Paper

how to write a reflection essay image

Use these 5 tips to write a thoughtful and insightful reflection paper.

1. Answer key questions.

To write a reflection paper, you need to be able to observe your own thoughts and reactions to the material you’ve been given. A good way to start is by answering a series of key questions.

For example:

  • What was your first reaction to the material? Was it positive, negative, or neutral?
  • Do you find the writer (or director, presenter, etc.) to be credible?
  • Has the material changed your mind in some way?
  • Which issues or questions does the material fail to address?
  • What new or remaining questions do you have after reading/viewing the material?
  • What have you learned from this material?
  • Does it remind you of any personal experiences, or anything else you’ve seen or read?

Answering these questions will help you formulate your own opinions, draw conclusions, and write an insightful reflection.

2. Identify a theme.

Once you’ve answered a few basic questions, look at your responses and see if you can identify any common themes .

What’s the main takeaway? If you could summarize your thoughts on this piece in one sentence, what would you say?

Think about what you’ve learned, or how the material has affected you. Be honest about how you feel, especially if the material incites any strong opinions or reactions from you.

3. Summarize.

Your reflection paper should not be just a mere summary of the material you’ve read or studied. However, you should give a recap of the most important aspects, and offer specific examples when necessary to back up any assertions you make.

Include information about the author (if you’re writing about a book or article). If you’re writing about a work of fiction, very briefly and concisely summarize the plot. If writing about nonfiction, share the author’s thesis, or the main argument they’re trying to make.

Just be careful to not overdo the summary—you don’t want to reproduce or offer a play-by-play of the original work, but rather offer enough context so readers can appreciate your reflection and analysis.

4. Analyze.

Your reflection paper is a great place to practice your critical thinking skills , which include analysis. The questions in Step 1 will offer you a good start when it comes to thinking more analytically.

Once you’ve offered enough context for your readers by including a brief summary, analyze the

  • the overall tone of the work
  • the credibility of the writer (or producer of the content)
  • potential biases
  • the intended purpose of the material

If you’re writing a reflection paper on a work of fiction, be sure to check out our guide to writing a literary analysis.

5. Make connections.

reflection paper tips image

Does the material remind you of any personal experiences you’ve had, or other books or films you’ve encountered? Can you connect it to any current events or real-world examples?

Then, zoom out and try to see the bigger picture. What do these connections have in common? Can you point out a larger, more universal theme?

The more of these connections you can tie in to your reflection to create a cohesive picture, the better.

Reflection Paper Template

Reflection papers don’t really require a rigid structure—the most important thing is that you communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. (Of course, if you received specific guidelines from your instructor, you should stick to those.)

The following is a loose outline that you can use to guide you through your reflection paper:

  • Include: Title, Author Name (or Director, Photographer, etc.).
  • Briefly summarize the work and its main themes.
  • Write a thesis that states the work’s overall impact on you.
  • When relevant, include specific quotes or examples to support your claims.
  • Explore your main reactions and thoughts after reviewing the material.
  • Build connections to personal experiences and other works you’ve encountered.
  • Show how the ideas from your body paragraphs tie together to support your thesis.
  • Summarize the overall effect the material had on you.

Reflection Paper Example

The following is an example of a reflection paper I wrote for a university course in response to an academic article on conflict resolution, found in the book Managing Conflict in a World Adrift :

In “Understanding the Gendered Nature of Power,” Oudraat and Kuehnast explain how peace theorists have fallen short in their analyses of the role of gender (and of women especially). Because gender roles are a reflection of power dynamics within societies, they can also serve as valuable indicators of dynamics within conflicts and post-conflict processes.

The authors emphasize the importance of using international intervention wisely. Although postconflict reconstruction might seem like an opportunity to rethink gender norms and roles, it seems that postconflict programs tend more often to reproduce gender norms that “no longer contribute productive approaches to society and escalate social tensions.” While I think we should always strive to bring more opportunities to women and eradicate gender biases, I agree with the authors that international actors must “be attentive to the gendered nature of the societies in which they intervene.” We have seen many cases where international intervention, although well-meaning, can end up hurting a community even more by meddling without truly knowing the conditions of a local situation.

One example of such misguided help is the campaign for “clean stoves” in African villages, based on the idea that women are assaulted when they look for fuel and water outside their camps. Providing clean stoves does nothing to address the root of the problem (sexual violence), and in fact further confines women to their homes, while many studies show that times of collecting water or other supplies are often critical opportunities for women to communicate, socialize, exchange ideas, and so on. In many cases it is the only time they will leave the home or village that day. The solution proposed by the clean stoves campaign reminds me of the culture surrounding sexual violence in the United States, where rather than working to attack the root causes of such crimes, we instead teach women that it is unsafe to go out late, or to dress in a certain way.

In order to make any progress, I agree with the authors when they suggest we need qualitative data that capture the changing nature of societies coming out of war. We must first identify the information we lack in order to move forward wisely and effectively.

Writing a Reflective Essay

Whether you’ve been assigned a reflection paper for school or simply want to write one for your own exercise, these tips will help you get the most from the experience.

Remember that when you’re consuming any type of media, it’s good practice to reflect on what you’ve absorbed and ask critical questions so you can draw your own conclusions.

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

  • 19 Books That Make You Think: A List of Thought-Provoking Reads
  • Why You Should Keep a Reading Journal: Tips for More Reflective Reading
  • How to Write a Literary Analysis: 6 Tips for the Perfect Essay
  • How to Summarize a Novel: 4 Steps to Writing a Great Summary

Kaelyn Barron

As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.


Glecie Centeno Pagilagan

Very helpful, thanks a lot!


Thankful for this! Thanks to you!

Kaelyn Barron

we’re glad you found the post helpful! :)

Frehiwot Kebede

In my understanding, this post helped me to guide my students while I was teaching them how to write effective reflection paper. In addition to this, I had time to correct my past through this post. Thanks a lot!!!

I’m so glad you found this post helpful for your students! :)

Larry Sharif

I believe I understood the steps and instructions on how to write a reflection paper and it makes lots of sense to me now than before . What I was really hoping for was that you could give us an example of a text or an article written followed by a reflection that was done on that article . Maybe I`m asking too much. Thank you though!!!!

Hi Larry, I’m glad the article was helpful for your reflection paper! I tried to provide an example of one of my own papers, but I couldn’t find the full text of the article I wrote on (it was from a textbook). I’ll try to find another example though :)

Benjamin Hussaini Gwamna

am very empress with this information. it really helps me to write an effective reflection papers

thanks Benjamin, we’re so glad you found it helpful! :)


This is very helpful as I am preparing for my portfolio defense. Many thanks Mark

I’m so glad you found it helpful, Mark!


Very informative.

Thanks Sara, I’m glad you found the post helpful! :)

Lyn gamora

Many thanks for this information,,very needed today for my final exam.

You’re very welcome Lyn, I hope it helped for your exam! :)

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How to write a reflective practice case study, bob price independent health services training consultant, surrey, england.

As evidence and experience play an important role in underpinning primary healthcare, combining them in a reflective practice case study has significant potential for purposes of publication and revalidation of professional practice.

Reflective practice case studies have the potential to help other nurses in the community re-examine care challenges and the opportunities before them. Nurses writing about a clinical case experience can add to the relevant evidence, as can discussion of the insights and issues that emerge. While research and reflective practice are regularly written about more generally in the press, there remains scope for nurses to combine them in a more analytical and pertinent way.

This article guides the reader through the process of identifying suitable case studies to write about and structuring the work they produce. Clear distinctions are made between case study as research methodology and case study as reflective practice process.

Primary Health Care . 27, 9, 35-42. doi: 10.7748/phc.2017.e1328

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

None declared

Prepare for revalidation: read this CPD article, answer the questionnaire and write a reflective account:

Please email [email protected] . Guidelines on writing for publication are available at:

For information about writing for RCNi journals, contact [email protected]

For author guidelines, go to

Received: 13 June 2017

Accepted: 22 August 2017

case study - evidence review - reflective practice - revalidation - writing for publication

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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  • Peterborough

A student studying on the floor

How to Write a Reflection Paper

Why reflective writing, experiential reflection, reading reflection.

  • A note on mechanics

Reflection offers you the opportunity to consider how your personal experiences and observations shape your thinking and your acceptance of new ideas.  Professors often ask students to write reading reflections.  They do this to encourage you to explore your own ideas about a text, to express your opinion rather than summarize the opinions of others.  Reflective writing can help you to improve your analytical skills because it requires you to express what you think, and more significantly, how and why you think that way.  In addition, reflective analysis asks you to acknowledge that your thoughts are shaped by your assumptions and preconceived ideas; in doing so, you can appreciate the ideas of others, notice how their assumptions and preconceived ideas may have shaped their thoughts, and perhaps recognize how your ideas support or oppose what you read.

Types of Reflective Writing

Popular in professional programs, like business, nursing, social work, forensics and education, reflection is an important part of making connections between theory and practice.  When you are asked to reflect upon experience in a placement, you do not only describe your experience, but you evaluate it based on ideas from class.  You can assess a theory or approach based on your observations and practice and evaluate your own knowledge and skills within your professional field.   This opportunity to take the time to think about your choices, your actions, your successes and your failures is best done within a specific framework, like course themes or work placement objectives.  Abstract concepts can become concrete and real to you when considered within your own experiences, and reflection on your experiences allows you to make plans for improvement.

To encourage thoughtful and balanced assessment of readings, many interdisciplinary courses may ask you to submit a reading reflection.  Often instructors will indicate to students what they expect of a reflection, but the general purpose is to elicit your informed opinions about ideas presented in the text and to consider how they affect your interpretation.   Reading reflections offer an opportunity to recognize – and perhaps break down – your assumptions which may be challenged by the text(s). 

Approaches to Reflective Inquiry

You may wonder how your professors assess your reflective writing.  What are they looking for? How can my experiences or ideas be right or wrong?  Your instructors expect you to critically engage with concepts from your course by making connections between your observations, experiences, and opinions.   They expect you to explain and analyse these concepts from your own point of view, eliciting original ideas and encouraging active interest in the course material.

It can be difficult to know where to begin when writing a critical reflection.  First, know that – like any other academic piece of writing – a reflection requires a narrow focus and strong analysis.  The best approach for identifying a focus and for reflective analysis is interrogation.   The following offers suggestions for your line of inquiry when developing a reflective response.

It is best to discuss your experiences in a work placement or practicum within the context of personal or organizational goals; doing so provides important insights and perspective for your own growth in the profession. For reflective writing, it is important to balance reporting or descriptive writing with critical reflection and analysis.

Consider these questions:

  • Contextualize your reflection:  What are your learning goals? What are the objectives of the organization?  How do these goals fit with the themes or concepts from the course?
  • Provide important information: What is the name of the host organization? What is their mission? Who do they serve? What was your role? What did you do?
  • Analytical Reflection: What did you learn from this experience? About yourself? About working in the field? About society?
  • Lessons from reflection: Did your experience fit with the goals or concepts of the course or organization?  Why or why not? What are your lessons for the future? What was successful? Why? What would you do differently? Why? How will you prepare for a future experience in the field?

Consider the purpose of reflection: to demonstrate your learning in the course.  It is important to actively and directly connect concepts from class to your personal or experiential reflection.  The following example shows how a student’s observations from a classroom can be analysed using a theoretical concept and how the experience can help a student to evaluate this concept.

For Example My observations from the classroom demonstrate that the hierarchical structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy is problematic, a concept also explored by Paul (1993).  The students often combined activities like application and synthesis or analysis and evaluation to build their knowledge and comprehension of unfamiliar concepts.  This challenges my understanding of traditional teaching methods where knowledge is the basis for inquiry.  Perhaps higher-order learning strategies like inquiry and evaluation can also be the basis for knowledge and comprehension, which are classified as lower-order skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Critical reflection requires thoughtful and persistent inquiry.  Although basic questions like “what is the thesis?” and “what is the evidence?” are important to demonstrate your understanding, you need to interrogate your own assumptions and knowledge to deepen your analysis and focus your assessment of the text.

Assess the text(s):

  • What is the main point? How is it developed? Identify the purpose, impact and/or theoretical framework of the text.
  • What ideas stood out to me? Why? Were they new or in opposition to existing scholarship?

Develop your ideas:

  • What do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge come from? What are the observations or experiences that shape my understanding?
  • Do I agree or disagree with this argument?  Why?

Make connections:

  • How does this text reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How does this text challenge my existing ideas or assumptions?
  • How does this text help me to better understand this topic or explore this field of study/discipline?

A Note on Mechanics

As with all written assignments or reports, it is important to have a clear focus for your writing.  You do not need to discuss every experience or element of your placement.  Pick a few that you can explore within the context of your learning.  For reflective responses, identify the main arguments or important elements of the text to develop a stronger analysis which integrates relevant ideas from course materials.

Furthermore, your writing must be organized.  Introduce your topic and the point you plan to make about your experience and learning.  Develop your point through body paragraph(s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You may find the questions listed above can help you to develop an outline before you write your paper.

You should maintain a formal tone, but it is acceptable to write in the first person and to use personal pronouns.  Note, however, that it is important that you maintain confidentiality and anonymity of clients, patients or students from work or volunteer placements by using pseudonyms and masking identifying factors. 

The value of reflection: Critical reflection is a meaningful exercise which can require as much time and work as traditional essays and reports because it asks students to be purposeful and engaged participants, readers, and thinkers.

How to Write Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide


Table of contents

  • 1 What Is a Reflective Essay?
  • 2.1 Critical Reflection Paper
  • 2.2 Personal Reflection Paper
  • 2.3 Reading Reflection Paper
  • 3.1 Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle
  • 3.2 Boud’s Three-Level Model of Reflection
  • 3.3 Schön’s Reflective Practitioner
  • 3.4 Brookfield’s Four Lenses
  • 3.5 Atkins and Murphy’s Model
  • 3.6 Dewey’s Reflective Thinking
  • 4 Writing a Reflection Outline
  • 5 Reflection Paper Format
  • 6.1 Choose the topic
  • 6.2 Start with the main theme
  • 6.3 Brainstorming part
  • 6.4 Analyze how and why
  • 6.5 Connect your opinion, experience, and observation
  • 7.1 1. Describe the Experience Vividly
  • 7.2 2. Use of First Person
  • 7.3 3. Balancing Personal and Objective Elements
  • 7.4 4. Authenticity and Honesty
  • 7.5 5. Critical Self-Reflection
  • 7.6 6. Demonstrating Growth and Learning
  • 8 Reflection Paper Example
  • 9 Ideas to Come Up with a Topic for a Reflective Essay
  • 10 Reflective Essay Topic Ideas for Middle School Students
  • 11 Reflective Essay Topics for College Students
  • 12 Reflective Essay Topics for High School Students
  • 13 Reflective Essay Topics about Places and Locations
  • 14 Reflective Essay Topics about Events You Cherish
  • 15 Reflective Essay Topics about Nature and Wildlife
  • 16 Reflective Essay Topics about Relationships
  • 17 Personal Reflective Essay Topics Ideas
  • 18 Reflective Essay Topics about Nursing and Caring
  • 19 Crafting Reflective Narratives

Have you watched or read something that impressed you much? In this case, you may want to talk about it in your essay. Often, students write such a paper not because they genuinely want to share something but because the professor wants to check how they have mastered the material. Thus, this article will give instructions to help you write an exciting and valuable reflection paper.

  • Starting with an outline, we will walk you through the nuances of the reflection paper format.
  • The article will guide you through the process of writing a reflection essay, from selecting a topic and identifying the central theme to engaging in brainstorming and analytical thinking.
  • Emphasize the importance of connecting personal experiences and observations with your opinions.
  • Moreover, the piece includes an extensive section on writing tips, where we discuss how to vividly describe experiences and balance personal insights with objective analysis.

What Is a Reflective Essay ?

Before we share what you need to know about effective reflection paper writing, we need to clarify what this type of essay is. It is your personal opinion and reaction about something, e.g., a movie or a trip. Accordingly, you must write about how that topic affected you instead of using only facts and arguments. As such, these papers are very appealing, and most students enjoy writing them. Of course, some don’t like these and rely on a writing essay service to complete a paper in no time.

In essence, the reflection’s purpose is to create a paper expressing your thoughts and opinions about the main topic. There are a few variations of reflection here, and we will explain each below.

Types of Reflective Writing

To write a reflection paper, you must pay close attention to the type you use. Word count is low here, so you must stay focused and use all the steps and proper elements. The essential element is to know about three different types. These will determine how to write a good reflection paper, how you need to optimize body paragraphs, and so much more. It is also one reason that makes writing reflection papers so hard.

Critical Reflection Paper

It is the most common and hardest type. It will be based on your study and has to include different points. For example, you need to elaborate on what you have learned, the experiences you received, and how and what challenges it took. However, you don’t have enough room, so you will need to be professional in this kind of academic writing, and you still need to focus on the main themes. Additionally, you will have to provide details about your experiences and reactions and analyze them in detail. Studying reflection paper examples may be necessary to get a general idea.

Personal Reflection Paper

Here, you also need to provide your experiences. Besides, you will also have to explain how it concerns you. There are countless examples and plenty of things you are about to discover. It differs from a critical reflection paper and focuses more on the experience’s personal element than anything else. You can always write a personal reflection essay how you like and want, but try to focus on the essential occasion.

Reading Reflection Paper

Being a pivotal component of education, a reflection paper plays a significant role in conveying the impact of literature, particularly books, on the individual. It necessitates clearly articulating how the reading material has influenced and shaped personal experiences. At many educational institutions, crafting a reflection on literature is a standard assignment. In meeting this requirement, it is essential to encompass all key aspects of this academic genre. Thus, the expected length of a reflection paper typically ranges from 2 to 3 pages, ensuring a concise yet comprehensive exploration of the insights gained from the literary experience.

Approaches to Reflective Inquiry

A reflection assignment is a powerful tool for personal growth and learning, allowing individuals to explore their experiences and derive meaning from them. Various approaches to thoughtful inquiry provide frameworks that can significantly enrich the narrative of a reflective essay. By incorporating these theories, writers can deepen their self-awareness, analyze their experiences from different perspectives, and articulate the transformative journey within their narratives. This exploration delves into five prominent approaches, each offering a unique lens through which individuals can reflect on something.

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

Graham Gibbs’ model offers a structured approach with six stages: Description, Feelings, Evaluation, Analysis, Conclusion, and Action Plan. This cycle ensures a comprehensive exploration of the experience by systematically guiding writers through each step. From initial impressions to actionable insights, Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle provides a robust framework for dissecting and creating a personal experience essay.

Boud’s Three-Level Model of Reflection

David Boud’s model comprises Descriptive Reflection, Dialogic Reflection, and Critical Reflection. By progressing through these levels, writers can move beyond surface-level observations, engage in a meaningful internal dialogue, and critically evaluate the broader implications of their experiences. Consequently, Boud’s model encourages writers to delve into the complexity of their reflections, fostering a more profound understanding of the self and the surrounding context.

Schön’s Reflective Practitioner

Donald Schön’s model distinguishes between Reflection-in-Action, Reflection-on-Action, and Knowing-in-Action. This approach emphasizes the importance of reflecting in real time, analyzing past experiences, and understanding how knowledge shapes future actions. Hence, Schön’s Reflective Practitioner offers a dynamic perspective that aligns with the ever-evolving nature of personal and professional development.

Brookfield’s Four Lenses

Stephen Brookfield’s model encourages writers to view their experiences through four distinct lenses: Autobiographical, Student, Colleague, and Theoretical. By adopting these different perspectives, writers gain a holistic understanding of their experiences, considering personal biases, the viewpoints of others, and theoretical frameworks that contribute to a more comprehensive self-reflection paper.

Atkins and Murphy’s Model

Sensing, Selecting, Executing, and Evaluating form the four stages of this model. Writers following this approach systematically progress through decision-making, implementation, and reflection, offering a practical reflection essay structure for examining the entire process. Particularly, Atkins and Murphy’s Model ensures writers reflect on the outcomes, decision-making, and implementation phases.

Dewey’s Reflective Thinking

John Dewey’s model follows a problem-solving approach with four stages: Identifying a Problem, Describing the Problem, Suggesting Solutions, and Testing Solutions. This model emphasizes recognizing challenges, contextualizing them, generating solutions, and assessing their effectiveness. Thus, Dewey’s Reflective Thinking aligns reflection with practical problem-solving, making it applicable in various contexts.

That being said, incorporating these reflective inquiry approaches into essay narratives enables writers to transcend surface-level descriptions, fostering a more profound understanding of their experiences. Whether examining emotions, analyzing actions, or considering multiple perspectives, these frameworks provide a structured pathway for meaningful self-discovery and growth.

Writing a Reflection Outline


Writing a reflection paper involves more than simply recounting experiences; it requires a thoughtful and organized approach to convey personal insights and growth effectively. That is why creating a reflective essay outline and adhering to a specific format can enhance the clarity and coherence of your reflective essay.

Reflection Paper Introduction:

  • Briefly introduce the experience or topic of reflection.
  • Provide context or background information as needed.
  • Clearly state the purpose of the reflection.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Organize each paragraph around a specific aspect/theme of the experience.
  • Use headings to distinguish different elements of the reflection.
  • Follow a chronological/thematic order, depending on the reflection’s nature.


  • Begin with a detailed description of the experience.
  • Capture sensory details, emotions, and the overall atmosphere.
  • Set the stage for readers to immerse themselves in the narrative.
  • Explore your emotions and thoughts during the experience.
  • Discuss how the event impacted you on a personal and emotional level.
  • Be honest and reflective in expressing your feelings.


  • Analyze the experience.
  • Consider what worked well and what could have been improved.
  • Reflect on the significance of specific moments or decisions.
  • Reflect on what you learned from the experience.
  • Connect the experience to broader concepts, theories, or personal beliefs.
  • Consider how the experience contributed to your personal or professional development.


  • Summarize the critical insights gained from the reflection.
  • Reinforce the significance of the experience in the broader context of your life.
  • End a reflection paper with a compelling conclusion for a lasting impression.

Action Plan (Optional):

  • Discuss how the insights will influence your future actions or decisions.
  • Consider any changes you plan to implement based on the reflection.

Reflection Paper Format

Here, we can see one crucial fact about reflective writing. All papers of this kind must use proper formatting. Admittedly, a reflective paper format will make your essay look as it should, and you won’t have any issues with your professor making any mistakes possible. In simple terms, this is the template you can use for all papers of this kind.

To encourage you to explore your ideas for different reflective essay topics , we will have to interpret the main facts below so you can use them. Keep in mind that your school may have a different requirement, so you will have to talk to your professor and get the guidelines to use them to write a reflection essay.

An academic writing is different worldwide, but you must do this before starting any essay:

  • You must write on A4 paper (in Office Word or on real paper).
  • Margins must be 1 inch.
  • The text size is 12 points.
  • Fonts you can use are Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri.
  • All lines must be paired with double spaces.
  • A teacher will define the citation (usually APA or Chicago style).
  • The length should be between 250 and 750 words.

How to Write Reflection Paper : Step-by-Step Guide

How to start a reflection paper? For this purpose, we will have a complete process of creating an effective reflective paper. All the experts use this simple guide, and it can have a huge effect on your writing. Undoubtedly, each reflective paper must follow the points, so you can imagine how crucial these are. If you skip at least one, you can finish poorly and get a lower grade. While at college, you can use these all the time but only on papers of this kind.

Choose the topic

The first is to pick the topic and thesis statement for reflective essay. Thus, you will have an easier time writing, and you will be able to focus more on the things you like and find interesting. You can also find some self-reflection paper examples . If the topic is not something you can opt for, you will probably have a harder time. Indeed, your chosen topic must perfectly match your experience and opinion and make you passionate. This is one of the reasons why so many students need help and want to get a good reflection paper done. They don’t want to write about some topic they don’t like. Luckily, you can always buy a research paper and get it over with.

Start with the main theme

You must write about what you have learned from the experience you are defining. Try to match the readers. They will want to be able to link up with you, and they will need that. In other words, if you can choose this, you already have a good reflection paper. They should be able to relate to that from reading your essay. Additionally, you can use strong words and many details if you are trying to define this from a book. At college, this is essential.

Brainstorming part

This can be an interesting part. You will need to relax and write down all the ideas that you have on your mind for self-reflective writing. It is not substantial how silly they are or how special they sound. Just write them down. Once you are done, you can organize them and make corrections. You should start with a title page when this is a more significant element. In general, you will have to write down anything memorable that may have any impact on the essay you are writing now.


Main theme: A constant fear of missing out.

  • I only feel FOMO when I’m studying instead of having fun.
  • Studies show that FOMO is a display of fear of social exclusion.
  • Social media foments the fomo.
  • Now I realize the main solution to FOMO is to spend less time checking on the feed.

Analyze how and why

Now, you will need to choose and analyze that idea in depth. You will need to write about how and why it hit you and your experience at the end. This is more important than you may believe and has a huge role. While at school, you always need to ask yourself how to make a self-reflection assignment and why. These are mandatory questions for all types of writing, which can help you get your desired grade.

✏️Examples of reflective writing:

  • “Before” questions: What will I receive from this experience? Which critical thinking skills do I need to overcome? Are there any issues I can face?
  • “During” questions: What is the expertise I receive from the occasion? How do I feel about it? Does this experience change my outlook?
  • “After” questions: How have these past experiences altered my life and thoughts? Did it meet my expectations? How can I express my feelings about it?

Connect your opinion, experience, and observation

You will need to write about the connection between what you thought about that idea, your experience, and what you observed. Try to link these simply and reach your readers as well. It may sound obvious, but one element can be essential for understanding. If you are writing a reflection essay about the book, you must say something about the author, the characters’ names, and how it affected you.

6 Tips on Writing Your Reflection Paper

Writing a reflective essay is a powerful vehicle for self-discovery and learning, allowing you to delve into your experiences and extract valuable insights. Here are six essential tips to enhance the effectiveness of your reflection paper:

1. Describe the Experience Vividly

Bring your experiences to life by vividly describing the details. Engage your reader’s senses with colorful language, capturing the moment’s sights, sounds, and emotions, especially if you are writing a reflection paper on a book. Transport them into the scene by painting a rich picture, allowing them to connect with your experience on a deeper level. Whether it’s a significant life event or a subtle moment of realization, the power of your reflection lies in the ability to convey the experience with clarity and depth.

2. Use of First Person

Reflection papers are inherently personal, so embrace the use of first-person pronouns. This approach allows you to express your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions authentically. Accordingly, using “I” and “me” invites the reader into your journey, fostering a connection and providing a more genuine reflection of your experiences. Don’t shy away from sharing your perspective; it is the foundation of a reflection paper format.

3. Balancing Personal and Objective Elements

Strike a balance between personal reflections and objective analysis. While conveying your emotions and subjective experience is crucial, incorporate objective elements to provide context and depth to your reflection in psychology and self-development. Besides, consider the broader implications of your experience and how it fits into the larger socio-cultural or academic context. This balance ensures that your reflection is both introspective and intellectually engaging.

4. Authenticity and Honesty

Authenticity is the heart of reflective writing. Be honest with yourself and your readers about your thoughts and emotions. Share the highs and lows, acknowledging moments of uncertainty or personal growth. No doubt, readers connect with authenticity, adding depth to your narrative. Also, avoid embellishment or artificial positivity; let your genuine voice shine through, creating a narrative that resonates with sincerity.

5. Critical Self-Reflection

Go beyond surface-level descriptions by engaging in critical self-reflection. Thereupon, challenge your assumptions, question your beliefs, and analyze your thought processes during the experience. After, consider how external factors or societal influences may have shaped your perspective. Critical self-reflection demonstrates intellectual rigor and a willingness to explore the complexities of your thoughts, contributing to a more nuanced and insightful reflection.

6. Demonstrating Growth and Learning

A reflection paper is not just about recounting an experience; it’s an opportunity to showcase personal growth and learning. Thus, reflect on how the experience has influenced your beliefs, attitudes, or actions. Discuss any changes in your mindset or behavior that have resulted from this reflection. Plus, articulate the lessons learned and highlight the ongoing process of development. Demonstrating growth adds a forward-looking dimension to your reflection, illustrating the transformative impact of your experiences.

Incorporating these tips into your reflective writing process will make your paper more engaging and provide a platform for genuine self-exploration and learning. Embrace the opportunity to share your unique perspective, allowing your reflection to resonate authentically with yourself and your readers.


Reflection Paper Example

“Reflecting on the Moment I Received a Long-Desired Possession” I still vividly remember the day I received the item I had been longing for – a sleek, silver MacBook Pro laptop. It was a momentous occasion for me, as I had been saving up for it for months and constantly researching and comparing different models and features. The laptop symbolized a new level of independence and creativity for me, and I was beyond excited to finally have it in my hands. As I eagerly tore open the box, I felt a rush of emotions – excitement, gratitude, and a sense of accomplishment. I had worked hard for this, and it was a tangible representation of my efforts and determination. I felt proud of myself for setting a goal and following through with it, and I couldn’t wait to start using my new laptop to its full potential. Using the MacBook Pro was like a dream come true. Its sleek design, fast processing speed, and advanced features made it so much easier for me to accomplish tasks and unleash my creativity. Whether I was working on school projects, writing personal essays, or just browsing the web, I felt inspired and empowered. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about the power of perseverance and hard work. I learned that if I set my mind to something and put in the effort, I can make it happen. This sense of control and autonomy was empowering and gave me a new level of confidence. In conclusion, receiving my long-desired MacBook Pro was a moment that will stay with me for a long time. It taught me about the rewards of hard work and perseverance, and gave me a new sense of confidence and independence. I am grateful for this experience, and I am looking forward to using my laptop for many years to come.

Ideas to Come Up with a Topic for a Reflective Essay

As you already know, writing a reflective essay requires speaking from experience and expressing yourself. That means that not only do you need to have an understanding of a specific matter. But you have to find a relation between the subject of the writing and yourself. That is related to creative skills, as interpreting that connection and experience is not an easy matter.

When writing such assignments, knowing how to pick your topic is crucial. For that, you should choose something of interest, and it can be anything dear to you—places, events, or meaningful moments with special people.

Always conduct thoughtful research. Finding information about your topic is crucial, as you must not only speak with your experiences but be able to confirm that with some facts and examples too. It is vital to ensure that you do not make up facts by yourself and provide truthful information, see from your perspective, and explain with your understanding.

Keep these tips in mind when selecting your reflective essay topic. They will greatly help and make the writing process more comfortable. Now it’s time to give you another shoulder. Check down below, and you will find reflective essay topic examples that inspire you to create the perfect one.

Reflective Essay Topic Ideas for Middle School Students

  • What I Did During the Summer Vacation
  • School Trips Are Fun
  • The Impact of School Sports
  • Season Changes and Their Beauty
  • The Winter Vacations
  • When Was The First Time You Lied?
  • Best School Memory You Have
  • How Important Is Family?
  • Why Lies Are a Bad Thing
  • First Day at School

Reflective Essay Topics for College Students

  • What Is Your Favorite Computer Game?
  • Was the Time You Spend Studying Worth It?
  • The Impact Humans Leave on Nature
  • A Gorgeous Person You Have Met
  • When Were You Really Embarrassed for the First Time?
  • The Best Birthday Memory You Have
  • Your Special Person and Their Importance to You
  • What Is Your Favorite Holiday Season?
  • Are You Afraid of Failing at School?
  • School Bullying, a Factor that Must Disappear

Reflective Essay Topics for High School Students

  • Your Favorite Fast Food Place
  • Playing on the Beach as a Middle Schooler
  • Moving to a New Place and the Issues that Come With It
  • Effects of Gaming on School Performance
  • Life Behaviour and Understandings from the Perspective of a High Schooler
  • Overstudying, Depression and Its Effects on the Modern Student’s Life
  • How Does Social Media Influence the Life of Every High Schooler?
  • The First Time You Fell in Love
  • Features in the Educational System that Must Be Changed
  • Your Favorite Hobby and Its Effects on Your Life

Reflective Essay Topics about Places and Locations

  • The House in Which I Grew Up
  • Your First School Trip and the Experience You Gained from It
  • Dear Memories of Your Grandparent’s Place
  • Which Place Makes You Feel Safe No Matter What?
  • Your School Club and Its Importance to You
  • The Part Where You Kissed Your Loved One
  • Circus, the First Time You Ever Visited One
  • The Mall and Its Vital Role in Every Student’s Life
  • Your Favorite Coffee Place
  • The Cinema Where You Went on a Date for the First Time

Reflective Essay Topics about Events You Cherish

  • Your Best Birthday Party Memory
  • The First Parenting Experience You Have Got
  • The Importance of Getting a New Job
  • Fishing and the Memories You Have Got from Your Grandparents
  • First-Ever Experience with Your Favorite Sport
  • The Time You Got Lost in a New City
  • Your Favorite Sports Event
  • The Time You Celebrated Your First Significant Anniversary
  • Your First Time Going to a Bar for a Drink
  • What Was the Best Unexpected Gift You Have Ever Gotten?

Reflective Essay Topics about Nature and Wildlife

  • Your First Experience of Seeing and Touching a Wild Animal
  • Farming, Your Experience with It, and Personal Observations
  • The Most Beautiful Sunset You Have Ever Seen
  • Rock Climbing and Its Effects Over People’s Mindset
  • First Natural Disaster You Have Seen
  • Your Experience with Insects
  • Nature and Hiking, Importance of Healthy Life
  • Your Thoughts about Winter and the First Snow Every Year
  • Scuba Diving, Experiencing Life Beneath the Surface
  • Your First-Ever Walk in the Summer Rain

Reflective Essay Topics about Relationships

  • The Importance of Family in Your Life
  • What Is the Most Significant Memory that You Have with Your Loved One?
  • When Was the Last Time You Had a Good Laugh with Your Other Half?
  • The First Time You Have Told Someone You Are Sorry for Your Actions
  • The Impact of a Healthy Family Relation on the Positive Mindset of a Person
  • Your Thoughts about Social Networking at Work
  • School, Student, and Teacher Relationship and Its Importance over Studies
  • Sincere Thoughts about Relationship with a Family Member
  • Long Distance Dating, Pros and Cons of the Healthy Relationship
  • When Was The Best Date You Ever Had?

Personal Reflective Essay Topics Ideas

  • Eating During School and Your Personal Experience with It
  • Your Most Significant Memory of Your First Workplace
  • Graduation and My First Time Finding a Job
  • The Most Beautiful Memory of a Walk in Nature
  • When Was the First Time Someone Asked You on a Date?
  • The Earliest Birthday Memory You Have
  • Your First Job Interview
  • The One Time You Unexpectedly Went on a Journey
  • What Was the Thing That Made You Fall in Love?

Reflective Essay Topics about Nursing and Caring

  • Your Thoughts on Nursing and the Hardships Related to It
  • Nursing Studies, Your Experience of the Process
  • Elderly People Homes and Nurse’s Importance
  • Man in the Nursing Sector
  • Your Insights on the Nursing Career Path
  • The Importance of Fast Reaction and Time Management Issues
  • Nursing and the Patients, Whose Interest Comes First
  • Modern Ethics and Their Importance in the Nursing Sector
  • My Life as a Nurse, Reflection Essay
  • Nurse and Why Did I Choose to Become One?

Crafting Reflective Narratives

In navigating the landscape of reflective writing, embracing vivid descriptions, first-person engagement, and a delicate balance of personal and objective elements is essential. Authenticity and honesty form the bedrock of compelling reflections, creating connections between writer and reader. Otherwise, you can ask for help and Google someone who will perform your “ write my paper for me ” request or try to do it yourself.

Critical self-reflection elevates the discourse, fostering intellectual exploration. A well-crafted reflection paper should be a testament to growth and learning. As you embark on your reflective journey, remember that each experience, when authentically shared, has the potential to resonate profoundly. Embrace the transformative power of your narrative and let the true essence of your journey unfold!

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How to Write a Reflection Paper: Definition, Outline, Steps & Examples

Reflection paper

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Reflection paper is an opportunity to look at a topic, concept or event and analyze it. It can involve personal introspection, observations of a particular situation or event, and even critical analysis of other works. Students should share their emotions, opinions, and reflections, exploring how the subject matter has impacted their thinking and personal growth. Unlike other types of essays, a reflection paper is usually written in the first person. 

Whether your teacher assigns an  internship reflection paper or any other type of a reflection paper, don't write about the image in the mirror. On the contrary,  study your thoughts on a given topic. Most students first encounter this type of writing when describing how they spent summer.  However, this type of academic writing can cover much more. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about this type of academic piece!

What Is a Reflection Paper: A Detailed Definition

Reflection paper refers to a type of academic writing where you should analyze your personal life, and explore specific ideas of how your changes, development, or growth turned out.  Consider this piece like diary entries. Except that others will be reading them. So it should have consistency, reasonable structure, and be easy to understand. In this respect, this work is very similar to any other academic assignment. Simply put, a reflective paper is a critique of life experiences. And with proper guidance, it is not very difficult to compose. Moreover, there are different types of reflection papers . After all, you can reflect on different things, not only your own experience. These types are:

  • Educational reflection paper In this type of work you must write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended.
  • Professional paper It is usually written by people who study or work in education or psychology.
  • Personal paper It goes without saying that this type is all about your own feelings and thoughts on a particular topic.

Reflection Paper Format: Which One to Choose

Reflection paper format can vary slightly depending on who your audience is. It is not uncommon that your paper format will be assigned specifically by your professor. However, some essential structural elements are typical for MLA, APA, or Chicago style formatting. These include introduction, body, and conclusion. You can find more information on paper formats in our blog. As always, paper writers for hire at StudyCrumb are at your hand 24/7.

How to Start a Reflection Paper: Guidelines

Here, we will explain how to begin a reflection paper. Working on how to start a body paragraph , review criteria for evaluation. This first step will help you concentrate on what is required. In the beginning, summarize brief information with no spoilers. Then professionally explain what thoughts you (if it is a personal paper) or a writer (if educational or professional paper) touch upon. But still, remember that essays should be written in first person and focus on "you."

Reflection Paper Outline

The best reflection paper outline consists of an introduction that attracts attention. After introduction, the plan includes the main body and, finally, conclusions. Adherence to this structure will allow you to clearly express your thinking. The detailed description of each part is right below.

Reflection Paper Introduction: Start With Hook

Reflection paper introduction starts with a hook. Find a way to intrigue your reader and make them interested in your assignment before they even read it. Also, you should briefly and informatively describe the background and thesis statement. Make it clear and concise, so neither you nor your reader would get confused later. Don't forget to state what it is you're writing about: an article, a personal experience, a book, or something else.

Number of Body Paragraphs in a Reflective Paper

Reflective paper body paragraphs explain how your thinking has changed according to something. Don't only share changes but also provide examples as supporting details. For example, if you discuss how to become more optimistic, describe what led to this change. Examples serve as supporting structure of your assignment. They are similar to evidence in, say, an argumentative essay.  Keep in mind that your work doesn't have to be disengaged and aloof. It is your own experience you're sharing, after all.

How to End a Reflection Paper

In the short reflection paper conclusion, you summarize the thesis and personal experience. It's fascinating that in this academic work, you can reflect forward or backward on your experience. In the first case, you share what role the essay plays in your future. In the second case, you focus more on the past. You acknowledge the impact that the essay's story has on your life. Reflect on how you changed bit by bit, or, maybe, grew as a person. Perhaps, you have witnessed something so fascinating it changed your outlook on certain aspects of your life. This is how to write conclusion in research paper in the best way possible.

How to Write Reflection Paper: Full Step-By-Step Guide

Writing reflection paper could be initiated by the teacher at college. Or we can even do it by ourselves to challenge our evaluation skills and see how we have changed. In any case, it's not an issue anymore since we've prepared a super handy guide. Just follow it step by step, and you will be amazed at the result.

Step 1. Answer the Main Questions Before Writing a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper means you should provide your thoughts on the specific topic and cover some responses. So before writing, research the information you want to apply and note every idea. If you're writing an educational or professional paper ask yourself several questions, for example:

  • What was my viewpoint before reading this book?
  • How do I consider this situation now?
  • What does this book teach me?

If your goal is to reflect on personal experience, you can start with asking questions like:

  • What was your viewpoint before the experience?
  • How did this experience change your viewpoint?

The more details you imagine, the better you can answer these questions. 

Step 2. Identify the Main Theme of Your Reflection Paper

Reflection papers' suggested topics can be varied. Generally, it could be divided into four main categories to discuss:

  • Articles or books.
  • Social events.
  • Persons or famous individuals.
  • Personal experiences.

In any case, it's good to show your own attitude to a topic, and that it affects yourself. It is also suited to write about your own negative experiences and mistakes. You need to show how you overcame some obstacle, or maybe you're still dealing with the consequences of your choices. Consider what you learnt through this experience, and how it makes you who you are now.

Step 3. Summarize the Material for Reflection Paper

At this step of reflective paper, you can wait for inspiration and brainstorm. Don't be afraid of a blank sheet. Carefully read the topic suggested for the essay. Think about associations, comparisons, facts that immediately come to mind. If the teacher recommended particular literature, find it. If not, check the previous topic's background. Remember how to quote a quote that you liked, but be sure to indicate its author and source. Think of relevant examples or look for statistics, and analyze them. Just start drafting a summary of everything you know regarding this topic. And keep in mind, that main task is to describe your own thoughts and feelings.

Step 4. Analyze Main Aspects of Reflection Paper

A whole reflection paper's meaning lies in putting theory and your experience together. So fill in different ideas in your piece step by step until you realize there's enough material. If you may find some particular quotes, you should focus on your viewpoint and feelings. Who knows, maybe there is some relatable literature (or video material) that can highlight your idea and make it sound more engaging?

The Best Tips on Writing a Reflection Paper

We prepared tips on writing reflection paper to help you find evidence that your work was excellently done! Some, of course, go without saying. Edit your piece for some time after writing, when you cooled down a bit. Pay attention to whether your readers would be interested in this material. Write about things that not only are interesting for you, but have a sufficient amount of literature to read about. Below you will find more tips on various types of writing!

Tips on Writing a Critical Reflection Paper

Role of a critical reflection paper is to change your opinion about a particular subject, thus changing your behaviour. You may ask yourself how your experience could have been improved and what you have to do in order to achieve that. It could be one of the most challenging tasks if you choose the wrong topic. Usually, such works are written at the subject's culmination. This requires intensive, clear, evaluative, and critical context thinking.

  • Describe experience in detail.
  • Study topic of work well.
  • Provide an in-depth analysis.
  • Tell readers how this experience changed you.
  • Find out how it will affect your future.

Tips on Writing a Course Reflection Paper

Course reflection paper is basically a personal experience of how a course at your college (or university) has affected you. It requires description and title of course, first of all. 

  • Clearly write information you discussed, how class went, and reasons you attended it.
  • Identify basic concepts, theories and instructions studied. Then interpret them using real-life examples.
  • Evaluate relevance and usefulness of course.

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book

A reflection paper on a book introduces relevant author's and piece's information. Focus on main characters. Explain what problems are revealed in work, their consequences, and their effectiveness. Share your experience or an example from your personal life. 

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Project

Main point of a reflection paper on a project is to share your journey during a process. It has the same structure and approach as previous works. Tell all about the obstacles that you needed to overcome. Explain what it took to overcome them. Share your thoughts! Compare your experience with what could have been if there were another approach. But the main task here is to support the pros or cons of the path you've taken. Suggest changes and recognize complexity or relevance to the real world.

How to Write a Reflection Paper on an Interview

A reflection paper on an interview requires a conclusion already in your introduction.

  • Introduce the person.
  • Then emphasize known points of view, focusing on arguments.
  • Later, express what you like or dislike about this idea.

It is always a good idea to brainstorm and research certain interview questions you're planning on discussing with a person. Create an outline of how you want your interview to go. Also, don't digress from a standard 5-paragraph structure, keep your essay simple. You may need a guide on how to write a response paper as well. There is a blog with detailed steps on our website.

Reflection Paper Example

Before we've explained all fundamental basics to you. Now let's look at a reflection paper example. In this file, you'll find a visual structure model and way of thinking expressed.

Reflection Paper: Main Takeaways

A reflection paper is your flow of thoughts in an organized manner concerning any research paper topics . Format is similar to any other academic work. Start with a strong introduction, develop the main body, and end with conclusions. With the help of our article, you can write this piece only in 4 steps.


Our academic assistants are up for the task! Just pick a twitter to your liking, send them your paper requirements and they'll write your reflection paper for you!

Frequently Asked Questions About Reflection Paper

1. how long should a reflection paper be.

A reflection paper must be between 300 and 750 words. Still, it always depends on your previous research and original task requirements. The main task is to cover all essential questions in the narrative flow. So don't stick directly to the work's volume.

2. Do reflection papers need a cover sheet or title page?

A cover sheet or title page isn't necessary for reflection papers. But your teacher may directly require this page. Then you should include a front-page and format it accordingly.

3. Do I need to use citations and references with a reflection paper?

No, usually, you don't have to cite in your reflection paper. It should be only your personal experience and viewpoint. But in some cases, your teacher may require you to quote a certain number of sources. It's necessary that the previous research was completed, so check it beforehand.

4. What is the difference between a reflection paper and a reaction paper?

The research paper definition differs from reaction paper. Basically, the main point is in-depth of discussion. In the first case, you must fully describe how something affected you. While in the second one, it is just asked to provide a simple observation.


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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This article is part of the research topic.

Feminist Methodologies in Research on Violence, Displacement, and Power

Bringing Rigor in Contextual Objectivity: Lessons from Applying A Feminist Lens in Scoping the Evidence on Girlhood Studies in Indonesia Provisionally Accepted

  • 1 Center on Child Protection and Wellbeing at Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia
  • 2 School of Culture and Communication, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, Australia

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

This perspective paper contemplates the nuances of engaging with literature ethically in conducting a scoping review based on the researchers' project on girlhood studies in Indonesia. We assert that the ethical perspective extends beyond conventional primary data collection from human participants, further emphasizing the essence of a feminist methodology in this scholarly investigation. We discuss the interplay between the role of rigor and the dynamics of power relations in research, shedding light on reconciling between the pursuit of facts and acknowledgment of biases in knowledge production. This reflection offers insights into the methodological process and the researcher's role, contributing to the broader discourse on how research can effectively address issues of gender equity and social inclusion. Through this paper, we underscore the necessity of an intentional approach in unifying the domains of science and advocacy because only then can we truly catalyze transformative change. In doing so, we seek to foster a more comprehensive, objective, and empathetic understanding of the researched: in this case, the experiences of girls and young women -and, by extension, marginalized individuals in Indonesia and beyond.

Keywords: Girlhood, Feminist methodology, Scoping review, advocacy, Indonesia

Received: 16 Nov 2023; Accepted: 15 May 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Kusumaningrum, Tieken, Adhi, Nisa, Sari and Beta. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Shaila Tieken, Center on Child Protection and Wellbeing at Universitas Indonesia, Depok, West Java, Indonesia

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