The proposed special issue aims to debate about expertise and connoisseurship by professionals and academic researchers, exploring the role and relationship of generating and evaluating new and existing knowledge in the design discipline and beyond. The issue of expertise and connoisseurship has come to the fore in recent years as professionals and scholars from many disciplines negotiate the tension between the explicit justification required by research and the tacit appreciation and judgement that expertise and connoisseurship entail.

Expertise is considered the highest level of skill acquisition and knowledge within professional practice, being based on experience and tacit understanding and an intuitive grasp and judgment of its processes and situations (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986). Much expertise operates without conscious effort and the tacit knowledge that sustains expertise is not generally made explicit nor is it easily articulated. Deliberate practice and extended experience result in automaticity and immediate intuitive response. For example, a pianist’s hand movement, a designer’s choice of material, a radiologist’s instant diagnosis, etc.

In contrast, connoisseurship can be defined as the external judgement or “the art of appreciation displayed in any realm in which the character, import or value of objects, situations and performances is distributed and variable” (Eisner, 1998, p. 63), and which relies on experience and tacit knowledge. For example, curators utilise their tacit expertise and connoisseurship together with their explicit knowledge in museology and conservation to make judgements on which artefacts are suitable for collections or exhibitions. This raises the question, for example, how inquiry into the practice of curatorship may accommodate the requirements of the practice of research and how we judge academic and creative output.

With this special issue, we wish to explore the roles of the researcher’s professional knowledge and the different ways in which it can be utilised and communicated within the framework of design research. This may include, for example, investigations into the nature, aims, evaluation, and/or necessity of different forms of expertise and connoisseurship as well as modes of communication and exchange for experiential and procedural knowledge.

The Journal of Research Practice is aimed at researchers from many disciplines, so articles should be written in a style that is accessible across disciplines. Potential authors should consult the Journal's Web site for style instructions.1

Proposals of about 500 words are invited. Authors of selected proposals will be requested to develop their proposals into manuscripts to be considered for the special issue. These manuscripts will undergo JRP's usual double-blind review process. Selected articles will be published, after any necessary revision.

Please send your proposal with your name and contact details using the subject line "JRP Special Issue on Expertise [first author's last name in brackets]" to the special issue editors:

  • Nithikul Nimkulrat (nithikul.nimkulrat[at], Professor in Textile Design, Estonian Academy of Arts, ESTONIA
  • Mark Evans (M.A.Evans[at], Reader in Industrial Design, Loughborough University, UNITED KINGDOM
  • Krisitna Niedderer (K.Niedderer[at], Professor in Design and Applied Arts, University of Wolverhampton, UNITED KINGDOM
  • 1.