How to Write a Reflection Paper in Chemistry

Writing guide
Posted on February 24, 2020

Have no idea how to approach your reflection paper in chemistry? Reflective writing is an important aspect of academic writing in a higher education and is a common assignment in different college courses, including chemistry. But the problem is that it differs from other types of writing in college and university that you may be more familiar with. That’s why we have created this easy step-by-step writing guide that covers all aspects of crafting a successful reflective paper in chemistry. You will learn what a reflection paper is, what value reflective writing offers you, and what strategies you should use to do it right. Besides, you’ll find 15 interesting chemistry paper topic ideas that you can use for creating your own reflective writing projects.

Face difficulties with completing other types of academic papers? At our website, there are lots of full guides to all writing assignments out there.

What Is a Reflection Paper in Chemistry?

Reflective writing at college is based on critical reflection which involves thinking consciously about an event, situation, idea or experience, analyzing it, and making connections between ideas, experiences, and previous knowledge. A reflection paper in chemistry requires you to map progress in your knowledge and changes in your thinking about a specific chemistry topic or concept. It’s more than just a simple description of your thoughts and observations. And it’s more than an ordinary summary of what have happened. You need to critically evaluate your experiences and think about connections between theory and practice. You need to link new ideas with what you have learned when doing your chemistry coursework.

Writing reflection papers in chemistry will help you clarify connections between your previous knowledge, skills, and experience, your new knowledge, and determine what else you need to learn. You may reflect on your successes as well as your mistakes and problem so that you can find a good solution and avoid them in the future. Reflective writing can help your personal and professional development.

Reflective writing can take many forms. It depends on the discipline you study and the assignment structure. Reflection essays and reports are more formal and they have a clear structure that consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. Ongoing journals, discussion entries and blogs are less formal and may not have a distinctive structure.

All reflective writing forms have some common features.

  • Reflection papers are mostly subjective because they concern your thoughts.
  • They are more personal than other types of academic papers.
  • They are written from the first person and you can use more informal language although you should avoid colloquial words and phrases.
  • Reflective papers are conversational when you tell about your experiences and ideas and formal and logical when you refer to some theories or concepts.
  • You don’t need a lot of evidence from scholarly sources to support your claims but you may still use some academic literature sources to explain something.
  • Reflection papers are emotive and you can tell about your feelings.
  • Reflection papers include description and analysis.

When writing reflectively about something, it can be helpful to look at the subject of your paper in depth and explore it from different points of view. In this way, you will be able to get a full understanding of it. But you should also be selective when writing about your observations and reflections and pick out only a few key aspects or themes to explore them and reflect on how you understand them.

How to Pick an Interesting Topic for Writing a Reflection Paper in Chemistry

Your professor is most likely to assign a specific topic or a subject that you need to explore so you won’t need to spend a lot of time choosing a good topic to write about. But sometimes, you are free to select a subject for your reflection essay. Then the best approach is to pick a topic or a subject that really interests you. Chemistry is a complex field of study and there plenty of interesting topics that are worth reflecting about. If you find it hard to make a choice, review our short list of impressive chemistry topic ideas. Feel free to use any topic from this list to write a reflection paper in chemistry.

  • Why Is Chemistry Sometimes Called “The Central Science”?
  • Discuss the Origin of Chemistry and Explain Why It is Important;
  • What Is the Difference between Ionic and Covalent Bonding?
  • What Are Common Types of Chemical Reactions?
  • Chemical Properties of Different Elements and Compounds;
  • Can Discoveries of Chemical Elements Continue Forever?
  • Chemical Elements of the Human Body and Their Functions;
  • Photosynthesis Reaction and Its Importance for Nature;
  • Chemical Structure of Vitamins;
  • Discuss Unique Bonding Properties of Carbon;
  • Why Is Carbon Called the Building Block of Life?
  • What Does Reactivity Mean in Chemistry?
  • How Can We Prove the Atomic Theory of Matter?
  • What Is Natural Radioactivity in Chemistry?
  • Essential Amino Acids and Proteins

Wondering what else you can discuss in your reflective papers in chemistry? A variety of interesting and important things:

  • Your perception of the chemistry course content
  • Hypothesis, possibilities, observations, and solutions
  • Questions you have about the course content
  • Observations, ideas, and experiences you’ve had and their connections to the chemistry course or topic
  • New concepts and theories that you need to examine next

How to Organize the Writing Process

When writing a reflection paper in chemistry, you need to consider many aspects such as description, analysis, interpretation, evaluations as well as future application and try to find a good balance between them. You are most likely to succeed in it if you follow these essential steps during the writing process.

1. Review the Assignment

Before you start brainstorming and planning your reflection paper in chemistry, you need to get clear about your task. There are many different forms of reflective writing assignments so you need to read the guidelines of your instructor carefully and find out what you are supposed to do. Some types of assignments are short, unstructured and don’t require polishing. For example, you may be asked at the end of the chemistry class to write quickly about the new theory or the concept you’ve just learned.

Other forms of reflection are academic essays that may differ in length – from several paragraphs to a few pages. Most commonly, your reflection paper in chemistry should be from 300 to 750 words long. You should organize it as a typical academic essay with a strong introduction, convincing body paragraphs, and impressive conclusion.

2. Create an Outline to Organize Your Ideas

Think of what you can write about. There are different effective brainstorming techniques you can use to gather new ideas for your paper and make connections between them, for example, mind mapping and free writing.

Free writing involves writing freely without stopping for set period of time, for example 5 minutes. Don’t pay attention to your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Just write. When the time is up, review what you have written and underline the most interesting ideas that relate to your experience and are really worth exploring in your reflection paper in chemistry.

Another interesting technique is mind-mapping. Take a piece of paper and write your topic or subject in the centre. Then draw branches around it and at each branch, include topics, ideas, experiences that you associate with the major topic. When you finish, select the most important ones and circle them. Think how your ideas are connected with one another and use lines and arrows of different colors to map relationships between them.

Choose the most significant ideas that you have generated and use them as key themes when creating your outline. Make sure your outline includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

3. Write an Introductory Paragraph

In the first paragraph, you need to identify the purpose and the subject of your reflection paper in chemistry. Besides, you should include information about the main lessons and changes in your views and tell about the key themes that you will examine and analyze in the body of your essay. You need to formulate a strong, highly-specific thesis statement in a form of evaluative or interpretative claim. The thesis has to inform readers of what you have learned from the chemistry course or reading and explain how this knowledge will be useful for you in the future. Review this thesis statement for a reflective paper that was written at the end of a chemistry course.

‘I started this year with a basic understanding of chemistry but as the year progressed, I began to realize that I understand many complex concepts which seemed too difficult for me at first. But I think my best achievement through this course is that now I realize how I can apply my knowledge of chemistry in everyday life.’

4. Write the Main Body

The main body of your reflection paper in chemistry will be organized around the key themes that you have chosen to support your thesis statement. Write a separate paragraph for each theme. Begin every paragraph with an informative topic sentence that presents one of the main themes. In the second sentence, give some additional explanation. Then support the theme with examples from your personal experience. If you want to sound more convincing, you may support the theme with expert opinions and relevant quotations from different authoritative sources. It’s OK to use non-traditional evidence to support your claims as well, for example, anecdotes, definitions, explanations of logic, and speculations. As you write, keep your sentences focused and don’t put many ideas into one sentence.

End each body paragraph with a strong concluding sentence that wraps everything up and connect your ideas by providing a smooth transition to the next paragraph. Use transition words and phrases to show different relationships between the ideas. For example, such transition phrases like specifically, by all means, indeed, in fact, namely, to clarify, in this case, including, in detail are used to indicate importance, introduce examples, and illustrate ideas.

5. Write a Conclusion

The concluding paragraph has to provide the final thoughts on the subject of your reflective paper in chemistry. You may draw together all the key points that you have covered in your paper. Or you can make this paragraph brief and include in it some important things that you want to highlight to your audience. You may restate your thesis using different words and emphasize some useful things that you have learned. A good idea is to share your plans of how you will apply theory to practice and what other things you are willing to learn in the future.

6. Revise and Edit

When you complete your first draft, you need to revise and edit it several times to ensure that your reflection paper in chemistry is concise, coherent, clear, and written in the appropriate style. You will need to look at your piece of writing through fresh and critical eyes so put your paper aside at least for several hours. Don’t try to revise and fix all issues at once. First, focus on serious large concerns such as content and structure. Then fix issues on the paragraph and sentence level. Finally, check grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and eliminate minor errors and typos.

As you see, working on a reflection paper in chemistry may be rather time-consuming and challenging. But the ability to write reflectively is a valuable skill in your academic career and it will be useful in your personal and professional life. Reflective writing can help you get a better understanding of the material you are learning, improve your analytical and critical thinking skills, and give you confidence. We hope that our complete guide on how to write a reflection paper in chemistry will help you master the art of reflective writing. Follow our simple instructions and you are sure to complete amazing papers that will make a great impression on your professors.

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