This question has come up in class and in your individual pre-writing exercises.

Scientific rigor is often determined by the execution of a well known scientific methodology on an appropriate population or part of the domain of inquiry. From good population samples, good data collection procedures, good data analysis procedures, and good reports comes rigorous science.

Critical rigor is commonly determined by the originality and insightful of an interpretation. To get there, one typically must engage with other thinkers in the relevant space, and one typically produces an intellectual synthesis of others’ ideas as a way to frame one’s own original interpretations. It’s hard to have that critical foundation if one has few readings.

My own CHI papers in first draft form often have about 100 different references for a 10-page paper. Shaowen’s first draft of her feminist HCI paper had nearly 130 separate references. By the time of submission, that number drops to about half: 50-60. I don’t expect anyone in this class to hit those kinds of numbers, but I do want to offer it as a reference to give you a context.

This course has been reading intensive because I expect that you will use the readings. Of course there will be a small number that are the most useful to you, but I expect you to demonstrate a general mastery of the readings for this class–we have devoted classes and hundreds of blog posts/comments to them, so I would expect that to show itself in papers. (This is what the Cliff’s Notes prewriting phase is for.)

So, some numbers:

3-5: The number of references that should frame the heart and soul of your work.

5-20: The additional number of references that help you make a given point, to frame your problem space, etc.

10-20: The total number of references I expect to see in the average paper for this class. (Remember: the majority of these will be simply using a definition or idea or acknowledging that someone else has gone before you and done XYZ similar thing as you.)