example of research reflection paper

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

example of research reflection paper

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:

Introduction

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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Reflective writing is a process of identifying, questioning, and critically evaluating course-based learning opportunities, integrated with your own observations, experiences, impressions, beliefs, assumptions, or biases, and which describes how this process stimulated new or creative understanding about the content of the course.

A reflective paper describes and explains in an introspective, first person narrative, your reactions and feelings about either a specific element of the class [e.g., a required reading; a film shown in class] or more generally how you experienced learning throughout the course. Reflective writing assignments can be in the form of a single paper, essays, portfolios, journals, diaries, or blogs. In some cases, your professor may include a reflective writing assignment as a way to obtain student feedback that helps improve the course, either in the moment or for when the class is taught again.

How to Write a Reflection Paper . Academic Skills, Trent University; Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; Tsingos-Lucas et al. "Using Reflective Writing as a Predictor of Academic Success in Different Assessment Formats." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 81 (2017): Article 8.

Benefits of Reflective Writing Assignments

As the term implies, a reflective paper involves looking inward at oneself in contemplating and bringing meaning to the relationship between course content and the acquisition of new knowledge . Educational research [Bolton, 2010; Ryan, 2011; Tsingos-Lucas et al., 2017] demonstrates that assigning reflective writing tasks enhances learning because it challenges students to confront their own assumptions, biases, and belief systems around what is being taught in class and, in so doing, stimulate student’s decisions, actions, attitudes, and understanding about themselves as learners and in relation to having mastery over their learning. Reflection assignments are also an opportunity to write in a first person narrative about elements of the course, such as the required readings, separate from the exegetic and analytical prose of academic research papers.

Reflection writing often serves multiple purposes simultaneously. In no particular order, here are some of reasons why professors assign reflection papers:

  • Enhances learning from previous knowledge and experience in order to improve future decision-making and reasoning in practice . Reflective writing in the applied social sciences enhances decision-making skills and academic performance in ways that can inform professional practice. The act of reflective writing creates self-awareness and understanding of others. This is particularly important in clinical and service-oriented professional settings.
  • Allows students to make sense of classroom content and overall learning experiences in relation to oneself, others, and the conditions that shaped the content and classroom experiences . Reflective writing places you within the course content in ways that can deepen your understanding of the material. Because reflective thinking can help reveal hidden biases, it can help you critically interrogate moments when you do not like or agree with discussions, readings, or other aspects of the course.
  • Increases awareness of one’s cognitive abilities and the evidence for these attributes . Reflective writing can break down personal doubts about yourself as a learner and highlight specific abilities that may have been hidden or suppressed due to prior assumptions about the strength of your academic abilities [e.g., reading comprehension; problem-solving skills]. Reflective writing, therefore, can have a positive affective [i.e., emotional] impact on your sense of self-worth.
  • Applying theoretical knowledge and frameworks to real experiences . Reflective writing can help build a bridge of relevancy between theoretical knowledge and the real world. In so doing, this form of writing can lead to a better understanding of underlying theories and their analytical properties applied to professional practice.
  • Reveals shortcomings that the reader will identify . Evidence suggests that reflective writing can uncover your own shortcomings as a learner, thereby, creating opportunities to anticipate the responses of your professor may have about the quality of your coursework. This can be particularly productive if the reflective paper is written before final submission of an assignment.
  • Helps students identify their tacit [a.k.a., implicit] knowledge and possible gaps in that knowledge . Tacit knowledge refers to ways of knowing rooted in lived experience, insight, and intuition rather than formal, codified, categorical, or explicit knowledge. In so doing, reflective writing can stimulate students to question their beliefs about a research problem or an element of the course content beyond positivist modes of understanding and representation.
  • Encourages students to actively monitor their learning processes over a period of time . On-going reflective writing in journals or blogs, for example, can help you maintain or adapt learning strategies in other contexts. The regular, purposeful act of reflection can facilitate continuous deep thinking about the course content as it evolves and changes throughout the term. This, in turn, can increase your overall confidence as a learner.
  • Relates a student’s personal experience to a wider perspective . Reflection papers can help you see the big picture associated with the content of a course by forcing you to think about the connections between scholarly content and your lived experiences outside of school. It can provide a macro-level understanding of one’s own experiences in relation to the specifics of what is being taught.
  • If reflective writing is shared, students can exchange stories about their learning experiences, thereby, creating an opportunity to reevaluate their original assumptions or perspectives . In most cases, reflective writing is only viewed by your professor in order to ensure candid feedback from students. However, occasionally, reflective writing is shared and openly discussed in class. During these discussions, new or different perspectives and alternative approaches to solving problems can be generated that would otherwise be hidden. Sharing student's reflections can also reveal collective patterns of thought and emotions about a particular element of the course.

Bolton, Gillie. Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development . London: Sage, 2010; Chang, Bo. "Reflection in Learning." Online Learning 23 (2019), 95-110; Cavilla, Derek. "The Effects of Student Reflection on Academic Performance and Motivation." Sage Open 7 (July-September 2017): 1–13; Culbert, Patrick. “Better Teaching? You Can Write On It “ Liberal Education (February 2022); McCabe, Gavin and Tobias Thejll-Madsen. The Reflection Toolkit . University of Edinburgh; The Purpose of Reflection . Introductory Composition at Purdue University; Practice-based and Reflective Learning . Study Advice Study Guides, University of Reading; Ryan, Mary. "Improving Reflective Writing in Higher Education: A Social Semiotic Perspective." Teaching in Higher Education 16 (2011): 99-111; Tsingos-Lucas et al. "Using Reflective Writing as a Predictor of Academic Success in Different Assessment Formats." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 81 (2017): Article 8; What Benefits Might Reflective Writing Have for My Students? Writing Across the Curriculum Clearinghouse; Rykkje, Linda. "The Tacit Care Knowledge in Reflective Writing: A Practical Wisdom." International Practice Development Journal 7 (September 2017): Article 5; Using Reflective Writing to Deepen Student Learning . Center for Writing, University of Minnesota.

How to Approach Writing a Reflection Paper

Thinking About Reflective Thinking

Educational theorists have developed numerous models of reflective thinking that your professor may use to frame a reflective writing assignment. These models can help you systematically interpret your learning experiences, thereby ensuring that you ask the right questions and have a clear understanding of what should be covered. A model can also represent the overall structure of a reflective paper. Each model establishes a different approach to reflection and will require you to think about your writing differently. If you are unclear how to fit your writing within a particular reflective model, seek clarification from your professor. There are generally two types of reflective writing assignments, each approached in slightly different ways.

1.  Reflective Thinking about Course Readings

This type of reflective writing focuses on thoughtfully thinking about the course readings that underpin how most students acquire new knowledge and understanding about the subject of a course. Reflecting on course readings is often assigned in freshmen-level, interdisciplinary courses where the required readings examine topics viewed from multiple perspectives and, as such, provide different ways of analyzing a topic, issue, event, or phenomenon. The purpose of reflective thinking about course readings in the social and behavioral sciences is to elicit your opinions, beliefs, and feelings about the research and its significance. This type of writing can provide an opportunity to break down key assumptions you may have and, in so doing, reveal potential biases in how you interpret the scholarship.

If you are assigned to reflect on course readings, consider the following methods of analysis as prompts that can help you get started :

  • Examine carefully the main introductory elements of the reading, including the purpose of the study, the theoretical framework being used to test assumptions, and the research questions being addressed. Think about what ideas stood out to you. Why did they? Were these ideas new to you or familiar in some way based on your own lived experiences or prior knowledge?
  • Develop your ideas around the readings by asking yourself, what do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge about this topic come from? What are the observations or experiences in my life that influence my understanding of the topic? Do I agree or disagree with the main arguments, recommended course of actions, or conclusions made by the author(s)? Why do I feel this way and what is the basis of these feelings?
  • Make connections between the text and your own beliefs, opinions, or feelings by considering questions like, how do the readings reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How the readings challenge these ideas or assumptions? How does this text help me to better understand this topic or research in ways that motivate me to learn more about this area of study?

2.  Reflective Thinking about Course Experiences

This type of reflective writing asks you to critically reflect on locating yourself at the conceptual intersection of theory and practice. The purpose of experiential reflection is to evaluate theories or disciplinary-based analytical models based on your introspective assessment of the relationship between hypothetical thinking and practical reality; it offers a way to consider how your own knowledge and skills fit within professional practice. This type of writing also provides an opportunity to evaluate your decisions and actions, as well as how you managed your subsequent successes and failures, within a specific theoretical framework. As a result, abstract concepts can crystallize and become more relevant to you when considered within your own experiences. This can help you formulate plans for self-improvement as you learn.

If you are assigned to reflect on your experiences, consider the following questions as prompts to help you get started :

  • Contextualize your reflection in relation to the overarching purpose of the course by asking yourself, what did you hope to learn from this course? What were the learning objectives for the course and how did I fit within each of them? How did these goals relate to the main themes or concepts of the course?
  • Analyze how you experienced the course by asking yourself, what did I learn from this experience? What did I learn about myself? About working in this area of research and study? About how the course relates to my place in society? What assumptions about the course were supported or refuted?
  • Think introspectively about the ways you experienced learning during the course by asking yourself, did your learning experiences align with the goals or concepts of the course? Why or why do you not feel this way? What was successful and why do you believe this? What would you do differently and why is this important? How will you prepare for a future experience in this area of study?

NOTE: If you are assigned to write a journal or other type of on-going reflection exercise, a helpful approach is to reflect on your reflections by re-reading what you have already written. In other words, review your previous entries as a way to contextualize your feelings, opinions, or beliefs regarding your overall learning experiences. Over time, this can also help reveal hidden patterns or themes related to how you processed your learning experiences. Consider concluding your reflective journal with a summary of how you felt about your learning experiences at critical junctures throughout the course, then use these to write about how you grew as a student learner and how the act of reflecting helped you gain new understanding about the subject of the course and its content.

ANOTHER NOTE: Regardless of whether you write a reflection paper or a journal, do not focus your writing on the past. The act of reflection is intended to think introspectively about previous learning experiences. However, reflective thinking should document the ways in which you progressed in obtaining new insights and understandings about your growth as a learner that can be carried forward in subsequent coursework or in future professional practice. Your writing should reflect a furtherance of increasing personal autonomy and confidence gained from understanding more about yourself as a learner.

Structure and Writing Style

There are no strict academic rules for writing a reflective paper. Reflective writing may be assigned in any class taught in the social and behavioral sciences and, therefore, requirements for the assignment can vary depending on disciplinary-based models of inquiry and learning. The organization of content can also depend on what your professor wants you to write about or based on the type of reflective model used to frame the writing assignment. Despite these possible variations, below is a basic approach to organizing and writing a good reflective paper, followed by a list of problems to avoid.

Pre-flection

In most cases, it's helpful to begin by thinking about your learning experiences and outline what you want to focus on before you begin to write the paper. This can help you organize your thoughts around what was most important to you and what experiences [good or bad] had the most impact on your learning. As described by the University of Waterloo Writing and Communication Centre, preparing to write a reflective paper involves a process of self-analysis that can help organize your thoughts around significant moments of in-class knowledge discovery.

  • Using a thesis statement as a guide, note what experiences or course content stood out to you , then place these within the context of your observations, reactions, feelings, and opinions. This will help you develop a rough outline of key moments during the course that reflect your growth as a learner. To identify these moments, pose these questions to yourself: What happened? What was my reaction? What were my expectations and how were they different from what transpired? What did I learn?
  • Critically think about your learning experiences and the course content . This will help you develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding about why these moments were significant or relevant to you. Use the ideas you formulated during the first stage of reflecting to help you think through these moments from both an academic and personal perspective. From an academic perspective, contemplate how the experience enhanced your understanding of a concept, theory, or skill. Ask yourself, did the experience confirm my previous understanding or challenge it in some way. As a result, did this highlight strengths or gaps in your current knowledge? From a personal perspective, think introspectively about why these experiences mattered, if previous expectations or assumptions were confirmed or refuted, and if this surprised, confused, or unnerved you in some way.
  • Analyze how these experiences and your reactions to them will shape your future thinking and behavior . Reflection implies looking back, but the most important act of reflective writing is considering how beliefs, assumptions, opinions, and feelings were transformed in ways that better prepare you as a learner in the future. Note how this reflective analysis can lead to actions you will take as a result of your experiences, what you will do differently, and how you will apply what you learned in other courses or in professional practice.

Basic Structure and Writing Style

Reflective Background and Context

The first part of your reflection paper should briefly provide background and context in relation to the content or experiences that stood out to you. Highlight the settings, summarize the key readings, or narrate the experiences in relation to the course objectives. Provide background that sets the stage for your reflection. You do not need to go into great detail, but you should provide enough information for the reader to understand what sources of learning you are writing about [e.g., course readings, field experience, guest lecture, class discussions] and why they were important. This section should end with an explanatory thesis statement that expresses the central ideas of your paper and what you want the readers to know, believe, or understand after they finish reading your paper.

Reflective Interpretation

Drawing from your reflective analysis, this is where you can be personal, critical, and creative in expressing how you felt about the course content and learning experiences and how they influenced or altered your feelings, beliefs, assumptions, or biases about the subject of the course. This section is also where you explore the meaning of these experiences in the context of the course and how you gained an awareness of the connections between these moments and your own prior knowledge.

Guided by your thesis statement, a helpful approach is to interpret your learning throughout the course with a series of specific examples drawn from the course content and your learning experiences. These examples should be arranged in sequential order that illustrate your growth as a learner. Reflecting on each example can be done by: 1)  introducing a theme or moment that was meaningful to you, 2) describing your previous position about the learning moment and what you thought about it, 3) explaining how your perspective was challenged and/or changed and why, and 4) introspectively stating your current or new feelings, opinions, or beliefs about that experience in class.

It is important to include specific examples drawn from the course and placed within the context of your assumptions, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. A reflective narrative without specific examples does not provide an effective way for the reader to understand the relationship between the course content and how you grew as a learner.

Reflective Conclusions

The conclusion of your reflective paper should provide a summary of your thoughts, feelings, or opinions regarding what you learned about yourself as a result of taking the course. Here are several ways you can frame your conclusions based on the examples you interpreted and reflected on what they meant to you. Each example would need to be tied to the basic theme [thesis statement] of your reflective background section.

  • Your reflective conclusions can be described in relation to any expectations you had before taking the class [e.g., “I expected the readings to not be relevant to my own experiences growing up in a rural community, but the research actually helped me see that the challenges of developing my identity as a child of immigrants was not that unusual...”].
  • Your reflective conclusions can explain how what you learned about yourself will change your actions in the future [e.g., “During a discussion in class about the challenges of helping homeless people, I realized that many of these people hate living on the street but lack the ability to see a way out. This made me realize that I wanted to take more classes in psychology...”].
  • Your reflective conclusions can describe major insights you experienced a critical junctures during the course and how these moments enhanced how you see yourself as a student learner [e.g., "The guest speaker from the Head Start program made me realize why I wanted to pursue a career in elementary education..."].
  • Your reflective conclusions can reconfigure or reframe how you will approach professional practice and your understanding of your future career aspirations [e.g.,, "The course changed my perceptions about seeking a career in business finance because it made me realize I want to be more engaged in customer service..."]
  • Your reflective conclusions can explore any learning you derived from the act of reflecting itself [e.g., “Reflecting on the course readings that described how minority students perceive campus activities helped me identify my own biases about the benefits of those activities in acclimating to campus life...”].

NOTE: The length of a reflective paper in the social sciences is usually less than a traditional research paper. However, don’t assume that writing a reflective paper is easier than writing a research paper. A well-conceived critical reflection paper often requires as much time and effort as a research paper because you must purposeful engage in thinking about your learning in ways that you may not be comfortable with or used to. This is particular true while preparing to write because reflective papers are not as structured as a traditional research paper and, therefore, you have to think deliberately about how you want to organize the paper and what elements of the course you want to reflect upon.

ANOTHER NOTE: Do not limit yourself to using only text in reflecting on your learning. If you believe it would be helpful, consider using creative modes of thought or expression such as, illustrations, photographs, or material objects that reflects an experience related to the subject of the course that was important to you [e.g., like a ticket stub to a renowned speaker on campus]. Whatever non-textual element you include, be sure to describe the object's relevance to your personal relationship to the course content.

Problems to Avoid

A reflective paper is not a “mind dump” . Reflective papers document your personal and emotional experiences and, therefore, they do not conform to rigid structures, or schema, to organize information. However, the paper should not be a disjointed, stream-of-consciousness narrative. Reflective papers are still academic pieces of writing that require organized thought, that use academic language and tone , and that apply intellectually-driven critical thinking to the course content and your learning experiences and their significance.

A reflective paper is not a research paper . If you are asked to reflect on a course reading, the reflection will obviously include some description of the research. However, the goal of reflective writing is not to present extraneous ideas to the reader or to "educate" them about the course. The goal is to share a story about your relationship with the learning objectives of the course. Therefore, unlike research papers, you are expected to write from a first person point of view which includes an introspective examination of your own opinions, feelings, and personal assumptions.

A reflection paper is not a book review . Descriptions of the course readings using your own words is not a reflective paper. Reflective writing should focus on how you understood the implications of and were challenged by the course in relation to your own lived experiences or personal assumptions, combined with explanations of how you grew as a student learner based on this internal dialogue. Remember that you are the central object of the paper, not the research materials.

A reflective paper is not an all-inclusive meditation. Do not try to cover everything. The scope of your paper should be well-defined and limited to your specific opinions, feelings, and beliefs about what you determine to be the most significant content of the course and in relation to the learning that took place. Reflections should be detailed enough to covey what you think is important, but your thoughts should be expressed concisely and coherently [as is true for any academic writing assignment].

Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; Critical Reflection: Journals, Opinions, & Reactions . University Writing Center, Texas A&M University; Connor-Greene, Patricia A. “Making Connections: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Journal Writing in Enhancing Student Learning.” Teaching of Psychology 27 (2000): 44-46; Good vs. Bad Reflection Papers , Franklin University; Dyment, Janet E. and Timothy S. O’Connell. "The Quality of Reflection in Student Journals: A Review of Limiting and Enabling Factors." Innovative Higher Education 35 (2010): 233-244: How to Write a Reflection Paper . Academic Skills, Trent University; Amelia TaraJane House. Reflection Paper . Cordia Harrington Center for Excellence, University of Arkansas; Ramlal, Alana, and Désirée S. Augustin. “Engaging Students in Reflective Writing: An Action Research Project.” Educational Action Research 28 (2020): 518-533; Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; McGuire, Lisa, Kathy Lay, and Jon Peters. “Pedagogy of Reflective Writing in Professional Education.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2009): 93-107; Critical Reflection . Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo; How Do I Write Reflectively? Academic Skills Toolkit, University of New South Wales Sydney; Reflective Writing . Skills@Library. University of Leeds; Walling, Anne, Johanna Shapiro, and Terry Ast. “What Makes a Good Reflective Paper?” Family Medicine 45 (2013): 7-12; Williams, Kate, Mary Woolliams, and Jane Spiro. Reflective Writing . 2nd edition. London: Red Globe Press, 2020; Yeh, Hui-Chin, Shih-hsien Yang, Jo Shan Fu, and Yen-Chen Shih. “Developing College Students’ Critical Thinking through Reflective Writing.” Higher Education Research and Development (2022): 1-16.

Writing Tip

Focus on Reflecting, Not on Describing

Minimal time and effort should be spent describing the course content you are asked to reflect upon. The purpose of a reflection assignment is to introspectively contemplate your reactions to and feeling about an element of the course. D eflecting the focus away from your own feelings by concentrating on describing the course content can happen particularly if "talking about yourself" [i.e., reflecting] makes you uncomfortable or it is intimidating. However, the intent of reflective writing is to overcome these inhibitions so as to maximize the benefits of introspectively assessing your learning experiences. Keep in mind that, if it is relevant, your feelings of discomfort could be a part of how you critically reflect on any challenges you had during the course [e.g., you realize this discomfort inhibited your willingness to ask questions during class, it fed into your propensity to procrastinate, or it made it difficult participating in groups].

Writing a Reflection Paper . Writing Center, Lewis University; Reflection Paper . Cordia Harrington Center for Excellence, University of Arkansas.

Another Writing Tip

Helpful Videos about Reflective Writing

These two short videos succinctly describe how to approach a reflective writing assignment. They are produced by the Academic Skills department at the University of Melbourne and the Skills Team of the University of Hull, respectively.

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How to Write a Reflection Paper

Last Updated: July 8, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,778,453 times.

Reflection papers allow you to communicate with your instructor about how a specific article, lesson, lecture, or experience shapes your understanding of class-related material. Reflection papers are personal and subjective [1] X Research source , but they must still maintain a somewhat academic tone and must still be thoroughly and cohesively organized. Here's what you need to know about writing an effective reflection.

Things You Should Know

  • Write an introduction that outlines the expectations you had and provide a thesis statement in the last sentence.
  • State your conclusions in the body paragraphs of the paper. Explain how you arrived at your conclusions using logic and concrete details.
  • Conclude the paper with a concise summary of your overall experience.

Sample Outline and Paper

example of research reflection paper

Brainstorming

Step 1 Identify the main themes.

  • These sentences should be both descriptive yet straight to the point.

Step 2 Jot down material that stands out in your mind.

  • For lectures or readings, you can write down specific quotations or summarize passages.
  • For experiences, make a note of specific portions of your experience. You could even write a small summary or story of an event that happened during the experience that stands out. Images, sounds, or other sensory portions of your experience work, as well.

Alicia Cook

  • In the first column, list the main points or key experiences. These points can include anything that the author or speaker treated with importance as well as any specific details you found to be important. Divide each point into its own separate row.
  • In the second column, list your personal response to the points you brought up in the first column. Mention how your subjective values, experiences, and beliefs influence your response.
  • In the third and last column, describe how much of your personal response to share in your reflection paper.

Step 4 Ask yourself questions to guide your response.

  • Does the reading, lecture, or experience challenge you socially, culturally, emotionally, or theologically? If so, where and how? Why does it bother you or catch your attention?
  • Has the reading, lecture, or experience changed your way of thinking? Did it conflict with beliefs you held previously, and what evidence did it provide you with in order to change your thought process on the topic?
  • Does the reading, lecture, or experience leave you with any questions? Were these questions ones you had previously or ones you developed only after finishing?
  • Did the author, speaker, or those involved in the experience fail to address any important issues? Could a certain fact or idea have dramatically changed the impact or conclusion of the reading, lecture, or experience?
  • How do the issues or ideas brought up in this reading, lecture, or experience mesh with past experiences or readings? Do the ideas contradict or support each other?

Organizing a Reflection Paper

Step 1 Keep it short and sweet.

  • Verify whether or not your instructor specified a word count for the paper instead of merely following this average.
  • If your instructor demands a word count outside of this range, meet your instructor's requirements.

Step 2 Introduce your expectations.

  • For a reading or lecture, indicate what you expected based on the title, abstract, or introduction.
  • For an experience, indicate what you expected based on prior knowledge provided by similar experiences or information from others.

Step 3 Develop a thesis statement.

  • This is essentially a brief explanation of whether or not your expectations were met.
  • A thesis provides focus and cohesion for your reflection paper.
  • You could structure a reflection thesis along the following lines: “From this reading/experience, I learned...”

Step 4 Explain your conclusions in the body.

  • Your conclusions must be explained. You should provide details on how you arrived at those conclusions using logic and concrete details.
  • The focus of the paper is not a summary of the text, but you still need to draw concrete, specific details from the text or experience in order to provide context for your conclusions.
  • Write a separate paragraph for each conclusion or idea you developed.
  • Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence. This topic sentence should clearly identify your major points, conclusions, or understandings.

Step 5 Conclude with a summary.

  • The conclusions or understandings explained in your body paragraphs should support your overall conclusion. One or two may conflict, but the majority should support your final conclusion.

As You Write

Step 1 Reveal information wisely.

  • If you feel uncomfortable about a personal issue that affects the conclusions you reached, it is wisest not to include personal details about it.
  • If a certain issue is unavoidable but you feel uncomfortable revealing your personal experiences or feelings regarding it, write about the issue in more general terms. Identify the issue itself and indicate concerns you have professionally or academically.

Step 2 Maintain a professional or academic tone.

  • Avoid dragging someone else down in your writing. If a particular person made the experience you are reflecting on difficult, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, you must still maintain a level of detachment as you describe that person's influence. Instead of stating something like, “Bob was such a rude jerk,” say something more along the lines of, “One man was abrupt and spoke harshly, making me feel as though I was not welcome there.” Describe the actions, not the person, and frame those actions within the context of how they influenced your conclusions.
  • A reflection paper is one of the few pieces of academic writing in which you can get away with using the first person pronoun “I.” That said, you should still relate your subjective feelings and opinions using specific evidence to explain them. [8] X Research source
  • Avoid slang and always use correct spelling and grammar. Internet abbreviations like “LOL” or “OMG” are fine to use personally among friends and family, but this is still an academic paper, so you need to treat it with the grammatical respect it deserves. Do not treat it as a personal journal entry.
  • Check and double-check your spelling and grammar after you finish your paper.

Step 3 Review your reflection paper at the sentence level.

  • Keep your sentences focused. Avoid squeezing multiple ideas into one sentence.
  • Avoid sentence fragments. Make sure that each sentence has a subject and a verb.
  • Vary your sentence length. Include both simple sentences with a single subject and verb and complex sentences with multiple clauses. Doing so makes your paper sound more conversational and natural, and prevents the writing from becoming too wooden. [9] X Research source

Step 4 Use transitions.

  • Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is."

Step 5 Relate relevant classroom information to the experience or reading.

  • For instance, if reflecting on a piece of literary criticism, you could mention how your beliefs and ideas about the literary theory addressed in the article relate to what your instructor taught you about it or how it applies to prose and poetry read in class.
  • As another example, if reflecting on a new social experience for a sociology class, you could relate that experience to specific ideas or social patterns discussed in class.

Expert Q&A

Alicia Cook

You Might Also Like

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  • ↑ https://www.csuohio.edu/writing-center/reflection-papers
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments/reflectionpaper
  • ↑ Alicia Cook. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 11 December 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-write-university/how-approach-any-assignment/how-write-reflection-paper
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
  • ↑ https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/writing-assessment/reflective-writing/reflective-essays
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/scholarlyvoice/sentencestructure

About This Article

Alicia Cook

To write a reflection paper, start with an introduction where you state any expectations you had for the reading, lesson, or experience you're reflecting on. At the end of your intro, include a thesis statement that explains how your views have changed. In the body of your essay, explain the conclusions you reached after the reading, lesson, or experience and discuss how you arrived at them. Finally, finish your paper with a succinct conclusion that explains what you've learned. To learn how to brainstorm for your paper, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Research-Methodology

Personal Reflection Sample: preparing a Research Report for ACCA

Personal Reflection Sample

The skill and learning statement includes the implications of interactions with mentor, an analysis of the extent to which research questions have been answered, a brief analysis of interpersonal and communication skills and their relevance to the research, as well as the contribution of the research experience to my professional and personal development.

1.      Experiences of interactions with mentor

I had chances of meeting my project mentor three times and obtained practical support regarding various aspects of the work during these meetings. Our first meeting was mainly dedicated to clarifying our expectations from the research experience and the discussions took place related to the issues of selection of the research approach and formulation of research questions and objectives.

By the time I had a meeting with my mentor for the second time Introduction and Information gathering chapters of the work have been completed and I received detailed feedback for these chapters of the research. Also, discussions were held about data analysis and presentation associated with the project.

During the final meeting with my mentor the overall work has been scrutinised and a set of specific points have been mentioned by my mentor. Specifically, my mentor raised a point that my discussions of research findings lacked depth and scale. Then, these points have been addressed and the final draft of the Research Report was completed.

I found advices given by my mentor very helpful in terms of increasing the quality of my Research Report and equipping me with knowledge of effectively conducting similar studies in the future in general. Moreover, my Project Mentor was not only highlighting the shortages that were associated with my project, but also was giving detailed explanations why these changes were desirable in a passionate manner.

Furthermore, I found these three sessions with my mentor to be highly motivational and informative experience because they have increased the level of my personal interest in conducting businesses studies. Prior to conducting the Research Report and having discussions with my mentor I was assuming conducting analytical business studies to be a rather boring experience.

However, thanks to my mentor I learned to appreciate the importance of analysing a business case in terms of identifying a current strategic and financial position of a business, and formulating the ways of identifying further strategic options available to the business.

2.      The extent to which research questions have been answered

Answering the research questions in my Research Report were directly related to the quality of secondary data, and the choice of methodology. Therefore, these issues were approached effectively by critically assessing the validity of the sources of secondary data and assessing alternative choices of methodology. Moreover, my first meeting with my Project mentor was mainly devoted to the discussion of the same issues.

As a result of comprehensive analysis the most reliable sources of secondary data in order to be used in Research Report were found to include published financial statements and annual reports, textbooks on financial and business analysis, information published in official company website, information available from ACCA website, as well as, various business journals an newspapers.

The choice of methods for conducting the study, on the other hand, was guided by the reliability of the data analysis methods and their relevance to the research issues. After spending additional amount of time for the choice of appropriate methodology and taking into account advises of my mentor, financial ratios and analytic tools have been chosen to be employed in my Research Report.

Purposely, financial and accounting ratios that were used in the study include profitability, liquidity, financial position and investor ratios, whereas, the choice of analytic tools consist of SWOT, PESTLE, and Porter’s five forces analysis.

To summarise this part, it is fair to state that all of the research questions in my Research Report have been effectively addressed, because the secondary data have been obtained from reliable sources, relevant methodology has been used to conduct the study, and the research findings have been critically discussed.

3.      Interpersonal and communication skills and their relevance to the research

I have demonstrated my interpersonal and communication skills at various stages of doing Research Report and preparing for and making the presentation. Moreover, without my interpersonal and communication skills completing the Research Report and doing the presentation would have proved to be highly challenging.

For example, my listening skills have proved to be highly valuable in terms of understanding vital information given by my mentor about increasing the quality of my Research Report, because these advises were fully understood and implemented into the practice.

My interpersonal skills have also played a positive role when I asked some of my trusted colleagues to be an audience when I was rehearsing my presentation. I was making presentations in front of my colleagues and was asking for their opinions about the quality of my presentation. This practice took place many times in different settings and I believe that following this strategy has enhanced the quality of my presentation and my marks.

However, my communication skills have played a crucial role in terms of succeeding in making the presentation effectively. I have learned from my experiences within and outside of academic settings that communication skills play the most crucial role in terms of succeeding in personal and professional lives.

For instance, an individual may possess a deep knowledge about a certain area. However, if the individual lacks competency of communicating his or her ideas, knowledge and feelings in an effective manner, the overall competency of the individual and the level of his or her contribution to the organisation will always remain compromised.

Therefore, in my opinion, regardless of the field, industry or type of organisation, communication skills can be specified as a compulsory attribute for an employee in order to be considered an a competent. In my case in particular, my advanced level of communication skills have enabled me to do my Research Report presentation effectively which has resulted in positive acclaim from my peers and mentor.

4.      The potential contribution of Research Report to the level of professional development

Conducting the Research Report and doing the presentation has increased the level of my professional competency in several ways. First of all, I have to mention the fact that I have developed a critical mindset towards solving business issues as a result of conducting the Research Report.

My mentor made it clear that it was important to critically analyse related issues in Research Report rather than just offering description of the issues and supplying calculations. The mentor had stressed many times that critical analysis and discussions are the elements of the work that increase its value. For the same reason I had to revise my Research Report several times until my mentor was satisfied with the level of critical analysis the work had included.

Although, such an approach to work seemed to be very challenging and confusing during the research process, I appreciated the value of critical analysis once the final work was completed. The skills of critical analysis that I have developed and applied in Research Report can easily be applied when real business issues would need to be resolved by me in the future in my professional capacity.

Completing the Research Report was similar to project management in real businesses environment in terms of strict deadlines, scarcity of resources, organising and planning, scheduling meetings, doing presentations etc. Therefore, the skills I developed during the process of completing Research Report can be used in order to successfully manage business projects in the future.

Moreover, my writing skills have also been greatly improved as a result of engaging in Research Report. Despite the popular opinion that with the increasing importance of information technology the practice of writing letters and reports are being replaced by alternative means of business communications, the importance of writing will always remain significant for business managers.

From this point of view engaging in Research Report was a very beneficial experience for me on a personal level. Specifically, writing the paper of almost ten thousand words in total, including this personal reflection, has made me better prepared to join the full-time workforce once my studies are completed.

Lastly, as a result of preparing the Research Report my professional interest on the issues associated with corporate strategy has been enhanced. Moreover, I am planning to continue studying the issues of corporate strategy and that knowledge would benefit me in the future as a corporate leader.

5.      Gains derived from conducting Research Report experience on a personal level

On a personal level I benefited from conducting the Research Report and doing the presentation in a number of ways. The research experience with Oxford Brookes has increased the level of my motivation for studying, making bold plans for my future career and implements necessary measures and initiatives in order to accomplish these plans. My mentor deserves to be mentioned here specifically for all encouragements and practical tips that can be applied in various alternative settings apart from academic life.

The level of my self-confidence has also been increased because I could complete the Research Report in time. Moreover, the presentation experience has increased the level of my self-confidence dramatically, because I understood that if I could do a successful presentation in front of my mentor and colleagues, doing the presentations of multi-million projects in front of top executives was just a matter of time.

The paramount importance of self-confidence for an individual is an undisputable matter. Self-confidence allows us to set ambitious plans and utilise all the available resources efficiently in order to achieve these plans.

My time-management skills have also been improved by the end of the Research Report. This is because there was a specific deadline for both, the Research Report and presentation and I had to adopt some principles related to time management in order to be able to submit my work on time.

These principles included setting specific deadlines for each chapter of the work, and above all, dramatically cutting the amount of time I used to browse social networking sites on the internet. I can highlight this fact as one of the most substantial gains in a personal level. This is because prior to the research experience I used to spend several hours a day browsing a set of social networking sites with no real benefit whatsoever. However, once the priority was given to the Research Project, this bad habit was dealt with effectively and irreversibly.

6.      Conclusions

To summarise, completing the Research Report and making presentation with Oxford Brookes University following my ACCA course has increased the level of my preparedness to join the full-time workforce and successfully utilise my energy and knowledge. In my opinion the biggest benefit I received from enrolling to this course of study is that the course of study, the Research Report and doing the presentation have made me to believe in my skills and capabilities and they have also awoke my desire to approach studying as a lifelong process.

Moreover, I have obtained a set of professional and personal gains as a result of completing the Research Report and making presentation that include the development of a critical mindset, improvement my writing and time management skills and enhancement of the level of my self-confidence.

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Example & Tips

Want to know how to write a reflection paper for college or school? To do that, you need to connect your personal experiences with theoretical knowledge. Usually, students are asked to reflect on a documentary, a text, or their experience. Sometimes one needs to write a paper about a lesson or a movie.

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

This assignment tests your critical thinking rather than your summarizing skills.

Struggling with a reflection paper? This article by our custom-writing experts will help you ace this task. Here you’ll find:

  • A guide on how to write a reflection paper;
  • Outlining and formatting tips;
  • Reflection paper example & a template.

🤔 What Is a Reflection Paper?

  • ✅ Reflection Paper Types
  • ✍️ Step-by-Step Guide
  • 📃 Examples & Formatting Tips

A reflection essay is a type of academic assignment in which you connect theories learned in class with your personal experience and knowledge. Additionally, you analyze your feelings and attitudes towards the subject. It helps you understand how to put theory into practice. 

The picture shows the definition of a reflection paper: a description, analysis, and evaluation of an experience.

For this assignment, the ability to use reflective thinking is vital. What does it mean? It means that you should be able to look back at and analyze:

  • what you did;
  • how and why you did it;
  • how it made you feel ;
  • what you could have done differently .

Consequently, your reflection essay should include the following components: 

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So, let’s make clear what a reflection paper is and what it’s not. Have a look at this comparison:

When it comes to topics, a reflexive paper may be about many things, such as:

  • an analysis of your work;
  • your impressions from attending a class or a speech;
  • an experience that has influenced your worldview;
  • a solution to a problem;
  • the steps to improve your academic progress.

Once you have a topic idea, the next step is to prepare for writing.

✅ How to Write a Reflection Paper: Tips for Various Types

Before your start working on your essay, let’s find out what exactly you should deal with. There are several different types of reflexive essays. Make sure to choose the one that suits you best.

We have prepared three classifications, depending on when, how, and what you will reflect.

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Depending on time, reflection papers can be:

  • Reflection-in-action. You study your actions under certain circumstances. Usually, it’s a patient-therapist interaction. In this case, you observe, feel, and analyze the situation you are engaged in.
  • Reflection-on-action. You study your actions after the situation has already occurred. It’s crucial to use your critical thinking here as well. 

Depending on the manner, reflexive essays can be:

  • Experimental. You make connections between theory and practice by conducting an experiment. It’s suitable for sociology, education, business, psychology, forensics, and nursing.
  • Reading. You connect the ideas from the texts and your interpretations to show your comprehension. 

Depending on the content, reflective writing can be:

  • a journal (to reflect on your learning in the course)
  • a learning diary (to evaluate group work)
  • a logbook (to reflect on your experiments, analyze past actions, and plan future ones)
  • a reflective note (to express your attitudes towards an issue)
  • an essay diary (to write an annotated bibliography, to analyze and critique the sources)
  • a peer review (to present your feedback on other students’ work or teamwork)
  • a self-reflection essay (to examine and comment on your working process).

Personal Reflection Paper: Writing Tips

In a personal reflection paper, you need to present your attitudes, emotions, feelings, and experiences. How do you do it? 

Here is the answer:

Get an originally-written paper according to your instructions!

  • Think about an experience that evokes particular emotions.
  • Describe what happened: mention the participants and their actions.
  • Demonstrate your emotions and feelings. It’s important to show them rather than just tell. The trick is to make the reader feel the same. You can do it by using imagery and various descriptive techniques.
  • Analyze your experiences and make connections with your present-day life. You can relate them to your study material or relevant theories and concepts.
  • Conclude with your plans. Tell the readers how you’re going to implement this knowledge. 

These reflective writing examples should give you an idea of what your writing should be like and what to avoid. First, let’s have a look at a poor example :

I wanted to become a painter. I liked to paint very much. Once I saw a painting of Claude Monet and decided to become like him. I bought paints and a canvas. My first work was not very good, but I didn’t give up. My future pictures were much better.

As you can see, it’s not very informative. There’s no analysis of an experience, and connections are not made. It also lacks interesting descriptions.

Now, check out this good example :

Critical Reflection Paper: Writing Tips

In a critical reflection essay, you assess how theories can be applied in practice, examine causes and consequences, and find solutions to problems. It’s all about evaluating and changing your attitude towards an issue rather than summarizing events and details.

The critical reflection process consists of two stages:

  • Analysis . Ask critical questions to find the core of the issue and your role in it. 
  • Articulation . Organize your ideas into a structured essay.

How exactly can you make an analysis?

Have a look at the following three-stage model. All you should do is answer the following questions:

  • What? During the first stage, you describe the details of the issue.
  • So what? The second stage requires you to relate your theoretical knowledge to the situation you discuss. The way you do it depends on the questions you are going to ask yourself while writing. There are three major perspectives to choose from:
  • Now what? At this stage, you think about the future outcomes. Ponder on how this situation will shape your further experiences. 

As soon as the analysis stage is over, you’re ready to relate your thoughts and ideas in written form.

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book

Now, let’s see what strategies can help you write an excellent reflective essay on a book. First of all, remember that this assignment is not about summarizing the plot. It’s about analyzing and connecting the ideas presented in the text with your knowledge. 

To write a perfect reflective paper on a book, take the following steps:

  • Analyze the text. Explore the ideas, purpose, and theoretical framework of the book. State its main point clearly and concisely. Then, discuss the information that interested you the most. Mention what emotions it evoked, and say whether the ideas in the book are new to you. 
  • Expand on your ideas. Describe how this information shapes your understanding of the subject. Also, state whether you agree with the author’s arguments. 
  • Establish connections. Show how the book helped to broaden your knowledge. Mention whether it had challenged your assumptions.

The following sample will help you see how you can structure your ideas:

How to Write a Reflection Paper on an Article

Usually, a reflection paper on an article is concerned with critiquing a written text or a speech. These strategies will help you write it:

  • Focus on your attitudes and feelings towards the article. You may mention your expectations and whether they were met.

I believed this book would help me understand the difference between traditional and radical forgiveness. I thought these two types had a lot in common. However, it turned out they are entirely different.

  • Refer to the passages that interested you the most: quote directly, paraphrase , or summarize them.
  • Include your subjective opinion: it’s important not to overdo it.
  • Combine formal and informal vocabulary to make your writing more expressive.

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

Want to know what exactly you should do to get an excellent reflexive essay? Read the following tips. They will help you write any type of reflection essay .

Reflection Paper Writing: Before You Start

Let’s start with some pre-writing strategies. Here are the main steps:

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas . Identify your central theme and write a summary of essential points.

Main theme:  Psychological reasons for eating a lot of sweets

  • Usually, I eat sweets when I’m sad or upset.
  • I have read that people who lack love and positive emotions and feelings try to substitute it with food.
  • Watching a documentary has evoked my interest in this topic.
  • My attitude towards sweets has changed after research.

Step 2: Analyze your ideas. Then, connect your experiences with theoretical knowledge.

The following list of questions will help you navigate your response.

Step 3: Organize your reflection essay . This list will make it clear what the writer does and doesn’t do in a reflective essay. Keep it in mind while planning what to include in your paper.

Here’s a bonus tip: to structure your reflection process, use the 4Rs model :

  • Report on the topic and its relation to the course.
  • Relate it with your personal experiences.
  • Reason out connections between your practical and theoretical knowledge.
  • Reconstruct the initial idea to make a conclusion.

Reflection Paper Template: What to Include

Now, let’s have a look at your essay’s structure. Your paper should consist of an introduction, main body, and conclusion:

The picture shows a template for a reflection paper with the main elements included in introduction, main body, and conclusion.

Want to know how to write each part? Keep reading!

Reflection Paper Outline: How to Start

The introductory part of your essay should be catchy, informative, and well-organized. How can you do it? Follow these strategies:

  • It should be specific: try not to include general and well-known information.
  • Make this sentence catchy. This will get your readers interested in the rest of your paper.
  • major facts or details related to the situation or issue;
  • general themes covered in the text, interview, or video under analysis;
  • aspects of teamwork or an individual assignment;
  • your biases, expectations, and possible challenges.
  • cover observations or conclusions made by you;
  • reveal a clear position on an issue;
  • include a plan on how to defend your opinions throughout the paper.

Don’t forget to reread your introduction each time before writing a new body paragraph. Make sure that all of them match the ideas covered in your introductory part and thesis statement.

Reflection Paper Outline: Body Paragraphs

So, what’s the next part? After you’ve presented your ideas in the introduction, you expand on them in the body paragraphs. The main point here is to cover one idea per paragraph and provide necessary supporting evidence. That’s why it is better to have no more than 3 body paragraphs.

Here’s what to include in this essay part:

Reflection Paper Outline: Conclusion

Finally, any academic paper needs a conclusion. Don’t know how to write it? Check out the following helpful tips:

📃 Reflection Paper Examples & Formatting Tips

The moment when you stop writing your essay is really amazing. But then comes the final part: you need to format your paper appropriately. Don’t know how to do it? Look no further: we have prepared some formatting tips for you.

You only need to know which citation style to use. APA and MLA are the most popular citation styles. That’s why we have gathered the most helpful information on them. Check it out!

APA Reflection Paper Formatting

American Psychological Association (APA) format is mostly used in sciences, psychology, and education. Consider the following tips if you need to write an APA reflection essay.

Below you’ll find a downloadable reflection paper example in APA format.

Reflection Papers Format: MLA

Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting is widespread in the humanities. Do you need to write an MLA reflexive essay? Have a look at some essential formatting tips about this citation style below.

If you want to know more about MLA formatting, check out this free reflection essay sample. You can download the full version below.

Reflection Paper Example

The COVID-19 pandemic raised the need for educational means that will not potentially endanger the students’ health. As a result, the need for online classes sharply rose worldwide. However, it is difficult to conclude whether such practices have been successful so far, especially in regions that are considered least developed. According to my personal observations, online classes may represent a negative educational experience that will hinder its primary role as the means of passing on the knowledge.

Make sure to check out these reflection paper samples to get more ideas for your essay.

  • Personal Philosophy of Nursing Reflection Paper
  • Application of Research in Social Sciences Reflection Paper
  • Ibsen’s A Doll’s House: Reflection Paper
  • Reflections on Aging
  • Reflection on the Book of Psalms
  • Epidemiology Course Topics Reflection
  • Personal Nursing Practice Reflection
  • Relational Practice: Reflections on Family Nursing
  • Reflection on “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein
  • Martin Luther King Speech Reflection

Reflection Paper Topics

  • Personal response to Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • Reflection on importance of leadership in healthcare .  
  • Globalization of Missions by Kgatle: personal reflections.  
  • Personal reflection on social work policy and its values.  
  • Racism as an example of social injustice : reflection paper.  
  • Reflection on the immigration policy based on Paul Vitello’s article Kiss me, I’m Illegal . 
  • Personal response to William Shakespeare ’s quotation, “For there is nothing either good or bad, thinking makes it so.” 
  • Reflection and evaluation of Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper . 
  • Importance of realization the policy of diversity: reflection paper. 
  • Analyze your personal response to the sports industry cowboysization. 
  • What, in your opinion, is leadership and professionalism?  
  • Reflect on the significance of the International Women’s Day celebration.  
  • Analyze the survey on nursing ethics and give your evaluation of its results.  
  • Personal reflection on French Revolution and value of liberty. 
  • Values and beliefs of nursing as a multifaceted healthcare area: personal evaluation. 
  • Brief analysis and personal evaluation of Christianity framework .  
  • Reflection on your personal nursing philosophy and beliefs. 
  • How does media affect friendship ?  
  • Reflections on the portrayal of family in Homer’s Odyssey . 
  • Personal evaluation of Gary Smalley’s Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships .  
  • Reflect on the historical and literary significance of Chronicles of the Indies . 
  • What does the leadership skills mean: reflection paper. 
  • Reflection on John Hume’s Nobel Prize speech and lecture about reaching agreement. 
  • Personal response to Soderbergh’s film Contagion .   
  • Reflect on visiting the website Virtual American Revolution, Boston and its role in teaching history. 
  • Describe your impressions of The Love Suicides at Amijima by Chikamatsu Monzameon. 
  • Reflect on the meaning of art using the installation My Bed by Emin as an example.  
  • Analyze your thoughts and feelings evoked by Epic of Gilgamesh .  
  • Is photography a true art?  
  • Does the idea presented in a series of stories The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien correlate with your personal beliefs?   
  • Bachelor of Science in social work : reflection paper. 
  • Discuss the problems reflected in the documentary Autism: Insight From Inside . 
  • Present your reflections on the single-parent families .  
  • How do you understand ethics ?  
  • Consider the crucial points of Cheleyem : An Experimental of Mapuche Film Program.   
  • The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic : personal reflections.    
  • Present personal evaluation of the film Mi Familia directed by Gregory Nava. 
  • Bill of Rights : reflective essay. 
  • Describe the impression of the film Rampant: How a City Stopped a Plague by Victoria Midwinter-Pitt.  
  • Evaluate staging of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.    

We hope that this article on a reflection paper has made things clear for you. In a nutshell, here are the main steps:

  • analyze the situation;
  • reflect on your feelings and experiences;
  • connect them to your theoretical knowledge.

We wish you the best of luck with your assignments. Don’t hesitate to share this article with your friends!

Further reading:

  • How to Write a Lab Report: Format, Tips, & Example
  • What Is a Master’s Thesis & How to Write It: Best Tips
  • Literature Review Outline: Examples, Approaches, & Templates
  • How to Write an Annotated Bibliography: Tips, Format, & Samples
  • 10 Research Paper Hacks: Tips for Writing a Research Paper

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

A reflection is a combination of critical thinking and learning. It’s a way of responding to one’s experiences, issues, and acquired knowledge. There’s no right or wrong in reflection writing, as every person reacts uniquely.

It’s better to discuss the essay’s length with your instructor. However, if there are no specific instructions regarding word count, your reflective essay should contain between 300- 500 words (approximately 1-2 pages.)

To write an effective reflexive essay about a lesson, you need to:

1. describe the lesson’s contents; 2. express your ideas and feelings related to the class; 3. mention what you’ve learned and how it affected you.

To write a reflection paper on a movie, follow the template below:

1. reflect on your emotions before, during, and after watching the film; 2. analyze your observations; 3. draw connections with the information learned in class.

🔍 References

  • Reflective Writing: UNSW Sydney
  • Models of Reflection: LibGuides at La Trobe University
  • Reflective Writing: Deakin University
  • The Reflection Paper: University of Toronto
  • Reflection Papers: Cleveland State University
  • The 4Rs Model of Reflective Thinking: Queensland University of Technology
  • Keys to Writing a Reflection Paper: Seattle PI
  • How to Write a Reflection Paper: Trent University
  • Reflection Template: University of South Florida
  • Critical Reflection: University of Waterloo
  • Critical Reflection: Texas A&M University
  • A Short Guide to Reflective Writing: University of Birmingham
  • The Structure of Reflective Writing: Monash University
  • General Format: APA Style: Purdue University
  • Using MLA Format: MLA Style Format
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Hi custom-writing.org admin, You always provide practical solutions and recommendations.

Custom Writing

Thanks for the feedback, Julian! Much appreciated.

This information on reflective writing has been very helpful. Thank you so much. Linda Grayson Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN

Thanks for the feedback, Linda! Much appreciated.

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6 Tips to Writing a Solid Reflection Paper (With a Sample Essay)

Tonya Thompson

A reflection paper is an essay that focuses on your personal thoughts related to an experience, topic, or behavior. It can veer toward educational as a reflection of a book you've read or something you've been studying in class. It can also take a more professional slant as you reflect on a certain profession or your experiences within that profession.

A lot of students enjoy writing this type of essay, especially if they find it easy to discuss their feelings and experiences related to a topic or profession. However, some students find this type of subjective writing to be difficult and would rather a more objective writing assignment.

Whether you're the former or the latter, for this article, we're going to look at 6 tips for writing a solid reflection paper that will help you get through the outlining and writing processes. We've also provided a sample reflection paper so you can see these tips in action.

A reflection paper is an essay that focuses on your personal thoughts related to an experience, topic, or behavior.

Tip #1—Choose a topic you're passionate about

However you choose to focus your reflection paper, if you're able to choose your own topic, choose one that is highly interesting to you or that you find important. You'll find that your paper will be much easier to outline and draft if you do. There are a range of potential topics that have been used or have the potential of turning into a great reflection paper. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Describe your internship experience.
  • Discuss a recent book you read that changed you.
  • What is "family" to you and why?
  • What are some of the qualities demonstrated by your favorite employers and/or managers? What makes them your favorite?
  • Discuss music that has altered your way of thinking or made you see the world from a different perspective.
  • Reflect on your favorite memory of a pet or loved one.

Tip #2—Outline your reflection paper before you write

Be sure to outline your reflection paper first before you start to write. Even though this sort of essay is written as a personal reflection, you'll still need to make sure you stay on topic and organize your writing in a clear, logical way. As with other traditional essays, there should be an introduction with a thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion. Each paragraph within your body should focus on a different sub-topic within the scope of your overall topic.

Tip #3—Write in first-person singular

Write in first-person singular. Format the essay according to your teacher's instructions, using whatever citation style required. Your teacher will likely request that it is double-spaced, with 1" indentation in each margin, in 12 pt. font. Also keep in mind that most reflection papers will be around 750 words or less.

Tip #4—Avoid too much description

Avoiding adding too much description of events. This is not the kind of essay where you need to discuss a play-by-play of everything that happens. Rather, it is the kind of essay that focuses on your reflection of the topic and how you felt during these experiences.

Tip #5—Avoid colloquial expressions or slang

Avoid colloquial expressions or slang—this is still an academic assignment. Also, be sure to edit your essay thoroughly for any grammar or spelling mistakes. Since a reflection paper is written in first-person point of view, it's easy to mistake it for an informal essay and skip the editing. Regardless of the type of essay you submit to your professor, it should always be edited and error-free.

Tip #6—Critical reflection goes deeper

If your assignment asks you to write a critical reflection paper, it is asking for your observations and evaluations regarding an experience. You'll need to provide an in-depth analysis of the subject and your experience with it in an academic context. You might also provide a summary, if the critical reflection paper is about a book or article you've read.

Sample reflection paper

My student teaching experience with the Master's in Education program has been a great learning opportunity. Although I was nervous at first, it didn't take long to apply lessons I have been learning in my academic program to real-world skills such as classroom management, lesson planning, and instruction.

During my first week of student teaching, I was assigned a mentor who had been teaching middle school grades for over 12 years. She assured me that middle school is one of the most difficult grades to teach and that there is a high turnover rate of teachers, which worried me. However, once the week got started and I began to meet the students, my fears abated. These young people were funny, inquisitive, and eager to begin reading the assigned book, Lord of the Flies —especially after we started with a group project scenario that included kids being stranded on an island without adults.

The first few weeks of applying classroom management skills I had read about in my Master's program were a definite learning experience. I had read enough about adolescent development to know that they were not yet at the age where they were able to control all of their impulses, so there were moments when some would yell out an answer or speak without raising their hand first. So, at my mentor's suggestion, I worked with the students to create their own classroom rules that everyone would agree to abide by. Since they played a role in coming up with these rules, I believe it helped them take more personal responsibility in following them.

When we finished that initial group project, I began to see how tasks such as lesson planning—and plans that have to be turned in to the administration weekly—can easily become overwhelming if not worked out on the front-end of the semester. My mentor explained that most seasoned teachers will work on their lesson plans over the summer, using the proper state curriculum, to have them ready with the school year begins. Having scrambled to get my lesson planning done in time during the first few weeks, I saw the value in this and agreed with her that summertime preparation makes the most logical sense. When the school year gets started, it's really a whirlwind of activities, professional development and other events that make it really difficult to find the time to plan lessons.

Once the semester got well underway and I had lesson planning worked out with as little stress as possible, I was able to focus more on instructional time, which I found to be incredibly exciting. I began to see how incorporating multiple learning styles into my lesson, including visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, helped the students stay more actively engaged in the discussion. They also enjoyed it when I showed them short video clips of the movie versions of the books we were reading, as well as the free-write sessions where they were able to write a scene and perform it with their classmates.

Finally, my student teaching experience taught me that above all else, I have truly found my "calling" in teaching. Every day was something new and there was never a dull moment—not when you're teaching a group of 30 teenagers! This lack of boredom and the things I learned from the students are two of the most positive things for me that resulted from the experience, and I can't wait to have my own classroom in the fall when the school year begins again.

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Reflection Toolkit

Structure of academic reflections

Guidance on the structure of academic reflections.

Academic reflections or reflective writing completed for assessment often require a clear structure. Contrary to some people’s belief, reflection is not just a personal diary talking about your day and your feelings.

Both the language and the structure are important for academic reflective writing. For the structure you want to mirror an academic essay closely. You want an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.

Academic reflection will require you to both describe the context, analyse it, and make conclusions. However, there is not one set of rules for the proportion of your reflection that should be spent describing the context, and what proportion should be spent on analysing and concluding. That being said, as learning tends to happen when analysing and synthesising rather than describing, a good rule of thumb is to describe just enough such that the reader understands your context.

Example structure for academic reflections

Below is an example of how you might structure an academic reflection if you were given no other guidance and what each section might contain.  Remember this is only a suggestion and you must consider what is appropriate for the task at hand and for you yourself.

Introduction

Identifies and introduces your experience or learning

  • This can be a critical incident
  • This can be the reflective prompt you were given
  • A particular learning you have gained

When structuring your academic reflections it might make sense to start with what you have learned and then use the main body to evidence that learning, using specific experiences and events. Alternatively, start with the event and build up your argument. This is a question of personal preference – if you aren’t given explicit guidance you can ask the assessor if they have a preference, however both can work.

Highlights why it was important

  • This can be suggesting why this event was important for the learning you gained
  • This can be why the learning you gained will benefit you or why you appreciate it in your context

You might find that it is not natural to highlight the importance of an event before you have developed your argument for what you gained from it. It can be okay not to explicitly state the importance in the introduction, but leave it to develop throughout your reflection.

Outline key themes that will appear in the reflection (optional – but particularly relevant when answering a reflective prompt or essay)

  • This can be an introduction to your argument, introducing the elements that you will explore, or that builds to the learning you have already gained.

This might not make sense if you are reflecting on a particular experience, but is extremely valuable if you are answering a reflective prompt or writing an essay that includes multiple learning points. A type of prompt or question that could particularly benefit from this would be ‘Reflect on how the skills and theory within this course have helped you meet the benchmark statements of your degree’

It can be helpful to explore one theme/learning per paragraph.

Explore experiences

  • You should highlight and explore the experience you introduced in the introduction
  • If you are building toward answering a reflective prompt, explore each relevant experience.

As reflection is centred around an individual’s personal experience, it is very important to make experiences a main component of reflection. This does not mean that the majority of the reflective piece should be on describing an event – in fact you should only describe enough such that the reader can follow your analysis.

Analyse and synthesise

  • You should analyse each of your experiences and from them synthesise new learning

Depending on the requirements of the assessment, you may need to use theoretical literature in your analysis. Theoretical literature is a part of perspective taking which is relevant for reflection, and will happen as a part of your analysis.  

Restate or state your learning

  • Make a conclusion based on your analysis and synthesis.
  • If you have many themes in your reflection, it can be helpful to restate them here.

Plan for the future

  • Highlight and discuss how your new-found learnings will influence your future practice

Answer the question or prompt (if applicable)

  • If you are answering an essay question or reflective prompt, make sure that your conclusion provides a succinct response using your main body as evidence.  

Using a reflective model to structure academic reflections

You might recognise that most reflective models mirror this structure; that is why a lot of the reflective models can be really useful to structure reflective assignments. Models are naturally structured to focus on a single experience – if the assignment requires you to focus on multiple experiences, it can be helpful to simply repeat each step of a model for each experience.

One difference between the structure of reflective writing and the structure of models is that sometimes you may choose to present your learning in the introduction of a piece of writing, whereas models (given that they support working through the reflective process) will have learning appearing at later stages.

However, generally structuring a piece of academic writing around a reflective model will ensure that it involves the correct components, reads coherently and logically, as well as having an appropriate structure.

Reflective journals/diaries/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflection

The example structure above works particularly well for formal assignments such as reflective essays and reports.  Reflective journal/blogs and other pieces of assessed reflections tend to be less formal both in language and structure, however you can easily adapt the structure for journals and other reflective assignments if you find that helpful.

That is, if you are asked to produce a reflective journal with multiple entries it will most often (always check with the person who issued the assignment) be a successful journal if each entry mirrors the structure above and the language highlighted in the section on academic language. However, often you can be less concerned with form when producing reflective journals/diaries.

When producing reflective journals, it is often okay to include your original reflection as long as you are comfortable with sharing the content with others, and that the information included is not too personal for an assessor to read.

Developed from:

Ryan, M., 2011. Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111.

University of Portsmouth, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (date unavailable). Reflective Writing: a basic introduction [online].  Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth.

Queen Margaret University, Effective Learning Service (date unavailable).  Reflection. [online].  Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.

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example of research reflection paper

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Good (and Bad) Answers to Common Interview Questions

example of research reflection paper

Sample language to guide you through the process.

Nailing your interview is no game of luck. You need to prep through extensive research and practice. When you’re preparing your answers to common interview questions, you might find that crafting thoughtful answers is harder than you imagined. You want to refine your words without sounding too rehearsed.

  • Whether you’re a recent grad or have been in the workforce for a couple of years, the key is to frame your past experiences into compelling narratives that speak to your skills and demonstrate your ability to do the job well.
  • It’s useful to understand what components differentiate a good and bad answer to common interview questions. A good answer includes narratives or examples that are specific, clear, self-aware, relatively recent, and related to the core competencies highlighted in the job description.
  • A bad answer, on the other hand, includes narratives or examples that are too personal, unprofessional, or irrelevant, overly negative, or  are a poor reflection on your character or skills.

You submitted your resume for a role that you’re excited about. Two weeks have passed and — finally — you’ve received a message: “We would love to learn more about your background and experience. Are you available for a virtual interview on any of these dates?”

  • XW Xena Wang (pronounced Zenna) is an early career professional with experience in higher ed admissions, arts and culture, and nonprofits. She is passionate about supporting individuals’ personal and professional development through inclusive staff engagement projects and volunteer Board Member positions. Xena is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Extension School’s Museum Studies program.

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Video generation models as world simulators.

We explore large-scale training of generative models on video data. Specifically, we train text-conditional diffusion models jointly on videos and images of variable durations, resolutions and aspect ratios. We leverage a transformer architecture that operates on spacetime patches of video and image latent codes. Our largest model, Sora, is capable of generating a minute of high fidelity video. Our results suggest that scaling video generation models is a promising path towards building general purpose simulators of the physical world.

More resources

  • View Sora overview

This technical report focuses on (1) our method for turning visual data of all types into a unified representation that enables large-scale training of generative models, and (2) qualitative evaluation of Sora’s capabilities and limitations. Model and implementation details are not included in this report.

Much prior work has studied generative modeling of video data using a variety of methods, including recurrent networks, [^1] [^2] [^3] generative adversarial networks, [^4] [^5] [^6] [^7] autoregressive transformers, [^8] [^9] and diffusion models. [^10] [^11] [^12] These works often focus on a narrow category of visual data, on shorter videos, or on videos of a fixed size. Sora is a generalist model of visual data—it can generate videos and images spanning diverse durations, aspect ratios and resolutions, up to a full minute of high definition video.

Turning visual data into patches

We take inspiration from large language models which acquire generalist capabilities by training on internet-scale data. [^13] [^14] The success of the LLM paradigm is enabled in part by the use of tokens that elegantly unify diverse modalities of text—code, math and various natural languages. In this work, we consider how generative models of visual data can inherit such benefits. Whereas LLMs have text tokens, Sora has visual patches . Patches have previously been shown to be an effective representation for models of visual data. [^15] [^16] [^17] [^18] We find that patches are a highly-scalable and effective representation for training generative models on diverse types of videos and images.

Figure Patches

At a high level, we turn videos into patches by first compressing videos into a lower-dimensional latent space, [^19] and subsequently decomposing the representation into spacetime patches.

Video compression network

We train a network that reduces the dimensionality of visual data. [^20] This network takes raw video as input and outputs a latent representation that is compressed both temporally and spatially. Sora is trained on and subsequently generates videos within this compressed latent space. We also train a corresponding decoder model that maps generated latents back to pixel space.

Spacetime latent patches

Given a compressed input video, we extract a sequence of spacetime patches which act as transformer tokens. This scheme works for images too since images are just videos with a single frame. Our patch-based representation enables Sora to train on videos and images of variable resolutions, durations and aspect ratios. At inference time, we can control the size of generated videos by arranging randomly-initialized patches in an appropriately-sized grid.

Scaling transformers for video generation

Sora is a diffusion model [^21] [^22] [^23] [^24] [^25] ; given input noisy patches (and conditioning information like text prompts), it’s trained to predict the original “clean” patches. Importantly, Sora is a diffusion transformer . [^26] Transformers have demonstrated remarkable scaling properties across a variety of domains, including language modeling, [^13] [^14] computer vision, [^15] [^16] [^17] [^18] and image generation. [^27] [^28] [^29]

Figure Diffusion

In this work, we find that diffusion transformers scale effectively as video models as well. Below, we show a comparison of video samples with fixed seeds and inputs as training progresses. Sample quality improves markedly as training compute increases.

Variable durations, resolutions, aspect ratios

Past approaches to image and video generation typically resize, crop or trim videos to a standard size—e.g., 4 second videos at 256x256 resolution. We find that instead training on data at its native size provides several benefits.

Sampling flexibility

Sora can sample widescreen 1920x1080p videos, vertical 1080x1920 videos and everything inbetween. This lets Sora create content for different devices directly at their native aspect ratios. It also lets us quickly prototype content at lower sizes before generating at full resolution—all with the same model.

Improved framing and composition

We empirically find that training on videos at their native aspect ratios improves composition and framing. We compare Sora against a version of our model that crops all training videos to be square, which is common practice when training generative models. The model trained on square crops (left) sometimes generates videos where the subject is only partially in view. In comparison, videos from Sora (right) have improved framing.

Language understanding

Training text-to-video generation systems requires a large amount of videos with corresponding text captions. We apply the re-captioning technique introduced in DALL·E 3 [^30] to videos. We first train a highly descriptive captioner model and then use it to produce text captions for all videos in our training set. We find that training on highly descriptive video captions improves text fidelity as well as the overall quality of videos.

Similar to DALL·E 3, we also leverage GPT to turn short user prompts into longer detailed captions that are sent to the video model. This enables Sora to generate high quality videos that accurately follow user prompts.

Prompting with images and videos

All of the results above and in our landing page show text-to-video samples. But Sora can also be prompted with other inputs, such as pre-existing images or video. This capability enables Sora to perform a wide range of image and video editing tasks—creating perfectly looping video, animating static images, extending videos forwards or backwards in time, etc.

Animating DALL·E images

Sora is capable of generating videos provided an image and prompt as input. Below we show example videos generated based on DALL·E 2 [^31] and DALL·E 3 [^30] images.

example of research reflection paper

Extending generated videos

Sora is also capable of extending videos, either forward or backward in time. Below are four videos that were all extended backward in time starting from a segment of a generated video. As a result, each of the four videos starts different from the others, yet all four videos lead to the same ending.

We can use this method to extend a video both forward and backward to produce a seamless infinite loop.

Video-to-video editing

Diffusion models have enabled a plethora of methods for editing images and videos from text prompts. Below we apply one of these methods, SDEdit, [^32] to Sora. This technique enables Sora to transform  the styles and environments of input videos zero-shot.

Connecting videos

We can also use Sora to gradually interpolate between two input videos, creating seamless transitions between videos with entirely different subjects and scene compositions. In the examples below, the videos in the center interpolate between the corresponding videos on the left and right.

Image generation capabilities

Sora is also capable of generating images. We do this by arranging patches of Gaussian noise in a spatial grid with a temporal extent of one frame. The model can generate images of variable sizes—up to 2048x2048 resolution.

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Emerging simulation capabilities

We find that video models exhibit a number of interesting emergent capabilities when trained at scale. These capabilities enable Sora to simulate some aspects of people, animals and environments from the physical world. These properties emerge without any explicit inductive biases for 3D, objects, etc.—they are purely phenomena of scale.

3D consistency. Sora can generate videos with dynamic camera motion. As the camera shifts and rotates, people and scene elements move consistently through three-dimensional space.

Long-range coherence and object permanence. A significant challenge for video generation systems has been maintaining temporal consistency when sampling long videos. We find that Sora is often, though not always, able to effectively model both short- and long-range dependencies. For example, our model can persist people, animals and objects even when they are occluded or leave the frame. Likewise, it can generate multiple shots of the same character in a single sample, maintaining their appearance throughout the video.

Interacting with the world. Sora can sometimes simulate actions that affect the state of the world in simple ways. For example, a painter can leave new strokes along a canvas that persist over time, or a man can eat a burger and leave bite marks.

Simulating digital worlds. Sora is also able to simulate artificial processes–one example is video games. Sora can simultaneously control the player in Minecraft with a basic policy while also rendering the world and its dynamics in high fidelity. These capabilities can be elicited zero-shot by prompting Sora with captions mentioning “Minecraft.”

These capabilities suggest that continued scaling of video models is a promising path towards the development of highly-capable simulators of the physical and digital world, and the objects, animals and people that live within them.

Sora currently exhibits numerous limitations as a simulator. For example, it does not accurately model the physics of many basic interactions, like glass shattering. Other interactions, like eating food, do not always yield correct changes in object state. We enumerate other common failure modes of the model—such as incoherencies that develop in long duration samples or spontaneous appearances of objects—in our landing page .

We believe the capabilities Sora has today demonstrate that continued scaling of video models is a promising path towards the development of capable simulators of the physical and digital world, and the objects, animals and people that live within them.

  • Bill Peebles
  • Connor Holmes
  • David Schnurr
  • Troy Luhman
  • Eric Luhman
  • Clarence Wing Yin Ng
  • Aditya Ramesh

Acknowledgments

Please cite as Brooks, Peebles, et al., and use the following BibTeX for citation:  https://openai.com/bibtex/videoworldsimulators2024.bib

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  1. How to Write a Reflection Paper: Guide with Examples

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  2. How to Write a Reflection Paper in 5 Steps (plus Template and Sample

    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?

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    1. Understand and summarize the material It's important that you review the material before writing the reflection paper. You can review similar texts and authorities to help you understand the content of the text. Some reflection papers may require you to review a particular event.

  4. Writing a Reflective Paper

    A reflective paper describes and explains in an introspective, first person narrative, your reactions and feelings about either a specific element of the class [e.g., a required reading; a film shown in class] or more generally how you experienced learning throughout the course.

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    Examples from Reflection Essays Disciplinary Awareness "The research I did this summer focused on sorption of cesium and strontium by soils. These two chemicals are commonly found in chemical contaminants... My research also focused on the distribution coefficient which is a measurement of how much of a solvent is [absorbed] by a geologic medium."

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    Sample Reflection Paper Part 1 Brainstorming Download Article 1 Identify the main themes. [2] In your notes, summarize the experience, reading, or lesson in one to three sentences. These sentences should be both descriptive yet straight to the point. 2 Jot down material that stands out in your mind.

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    As I enter my first college class, my attention goes to Professor Feldman, a tall, slender woman in a loose pearl blouse with black dress pants. The combination of her graceful stance and scholarly presence distinguishes her already from the chaos of the lecture room.

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  9. How To Write a Reflection Paper (Components and Examples)

    Introduction (Thesis) A reflection paper's introduction specifies the topic, identifies the points it'll cover, and gives your thesis statement. In a reflection paper, your thesis can state what you came away with but in thought-provoking terms. Example: I've always associated a day at the zoo with an outing away from home for children.

  10. Reflection Paper

    Reflection paper. a paper written by looking back at something from different angles; one must keep changing the angles until a fuller picture is seen. Critical thinking. looking deeper into a ...

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    Abstract The article grounds on the assumption that researchers, in order to be not mere technicians but competent practitioners of research, should be able to reflect in a deep way. That means they should reflect not only on the practical acts of research but also on the mental experience which constructs the meaning about practice.

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    How to Write a Reflection Paper: Example & Tips (19 votes) Want to know how to write a reflection paper for college or school? To do that, you need to connect your personal experiences with theoretical knowledge. Usually, students are asked to reflect on a documentary, a text, or their experience.

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    Notably, scholars such as Aberbach and Rockman (2002), Hoffmann-Lange (1987) as well as Zuckerman (1972) have also shown that elites prefer to engage with open-ended questions so that they can articulate their views coherently.

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  19. Structure of academic reflections

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  20. Sample papers

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

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  27. Video generation models as world simulators

    We explore large-scale training of generative models on video data. Specifically, we train text-conditional diffusion models jointly on videos and images of variable durations, resolutions and aspect ratios. We leverage a transformer architecture that operates on spacetime patches of video and image latent codes. Our largest model, Sora, is capable of generating a minute of high fidelity video.