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Professor Janet Mcdonnell

Associate Dean of Research
Central Saint Martins
Researcher Research
Janet  Mcdonnell


McDonnell was originally educated in engineering at Imperial College London. She practiced as a chartered engineer designing engineering information systems, before holding a series of academic posts in departments of Computer Science. She joined CSM in 2006. She holds a PhD for work on elicitation and computer modelling of design knowledge. For the last 25 years she has published research in information and knowledge representation, design expertise, expertise acquisition, and empirical studies of collaboration in design practice. She is the editor-in-chief of the journal CoDesign.

McDonnell's research interests are in studying design and other kinds of creative practice in natural settings where many competing pressures are at play. The focus of work is on bringing practices to notice: making practices ‘visible’ e.g. the methods in use, the decision-making behaviour, how ideas get introduced and established, the informational bases (sources, uses and quality) that individuals and groups rely on, and the influences of assumptions and norms. The overarching themes uniting different studies are an interest in supporting critical, reflective design practice, enabling user engagement in design, and understanding how effective collaboration occurs. She is currently working on a series of studies of long term creative collaborative practice.

Research Outputs


Conference, Symposium or Workshop item

Past research students

  • Pedro Almeida, Brand Archives: The rescuing of locally specific brand imagery as a graphic design response to the globalization of visual identity (Lead supervisor)
  • Elena Brebenel, Can biomimicry help design furnishings for the domestic environment that improve air quality? (Lead supervisor)
  • Joana Casaca Lemos, Beyond Made in: Exploring made by and empathy as a means to trigger conscious consumption (Lead supervisor)
  • Brian Dixon, A Novel Graphic Syntax: An investigation into how a GPS-enabled wayfinding interface can be designed to visually support urban recreational walkers’ situation awareness (Lead supervisor)
  • Mark Harkins, Contemporary processes of text typeface design (Lead supervisor)
  • Jonathan Milo Taylor, Immersion: A dynamic digital environment for creative interaction with archival sound art material (Lead supervisor)
  • Annegrete Molhave, Enhancing the transformation of information into diagrammatic construction within scientific learning material for school pupils: a practice-based case focusing on closed-loop cycles (Lead supervisor)
  • Giorgio Salani, Making craft: Towards a global taxonomy. A practice-led enquiry into the production of tableware in British and Japanese pottery (Lead supervisor)
  • Jane Scott, Programmable Knitting (Lead supervisor)
  • Claire Tomlins, The Digital Corporate Presence Strategies as part of the Corporate Identity Mix (Lead supervisor)