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Professor Sharon McDonald

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Professor of Human-Computer Interaction

I am a Professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and a Chartered Psychologist. My research interests focus primarily on the development of usability evaluation methods. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Teaching and supervision

I teach modules User Experience Design and User Experience and Cybersecurity. I'm also a Research Student Manager.

Research interests for potential research students

I am currently supervising 8 PhD students working in the following areas:
  • The contribution of verbal protocol methods to usability testing
  • The use of human-centred design tools for the design of social software
  • The impact of personality factors on human-computer interaction
  • Older users' perceptions of ebanking
  • E-readiness in developing countries
  • The evaluation of health information products
  • Software tools to support the use of motion capture technology for measurement and data visualisation within equestrian sports

I would welcome applications from students interested in the above areas or any of the areas listed below:
  • Usability evaluation methods: all aspects of usability testing and analytical methods
  • Information seeking behaviours
  • Security information behaviours
  • Usable security


My primary area of research examines the contribution of a range of verbal protocol or "think-alouds" methods to the evaluation of interactive systems.

Think-aloud methods are used extensively by usability and user researcher practioners working in industry. My research suggests that the common elicitation practices used by practitioners may serve to threaten the validity of the resultant data. 


Number of items: 37.


Wilson, Martin, McDonald, Sharon, Button, Dominic and McGarry, Kenneth (2022) It won't happen to me: Surveying SME attitudes to cybersecurity. Journal of Computer Information Systems. ISSN 2380-2057 (In Press)

Mcdonald, Sharon, Cockton, Gilbert and Irons, Alastair (2020) The impact of Thinking-Aloud on usability inspection. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 4 (88). pp. 1-21. ISSN 2573-0142

McGarry, Kenneth, Graham, Yitka, McDonald, Sharon and Rashid, Anuam (2018) RESKO: Repositioning drugs by using side effects and knowledge from ontologies. Knowledge-Based Systems, 160. pp. 34-48. ISSN 0950-7051

Hall, Lynne, Mcdonald, Sharon and Young, Shell (2018) Barking Up the Wrong Tree: A Qualitative Study of the Potential for Dog-Owner Technology. British HCI Conference.

Gandy, Elizabeth, Bondi, Anne, Pigott, Timothy M. C., Smith, Gary and Mcdonald, Sharon (2018) Investigation of the use of inertial sensing equipment for the measurement of hip flexion and pelvic rotation in horse riders. Comparative Exercise Physiology, 14 (2). pp. 99-110. ISSN 1755-2540

McGarry, Kenneth and Mcdonald, Sharon (2018) Complex network theory for the identification and assessment of candidate protein targets. Computers in Biology and Medicine, 97. pp. 113-123. ISSN 0010-4825

Willis, Leanne and McDonald, Sharon (2016) Retrospective protocols in usability testing: a comparison of Post-session RTA versus Post-task RTA reports. Behaviour & Information Technology, 35 (8). pp. 628-643. ISSN 0144-929X

McDonald, Sharon, Zhao, Tingting and Edwards, Helen (2016) Look Who's Talking: Evaluating the Utility of Interventions During an Interactive Think-Aloud. Interacting with Computers, 28 (3). pp. 387-403. ISSN 0953-5438

Edwards, H, McDonald, Sharon, Zhao, T and Humphries, Lynne (2013) Reflecting on the Pret a Rapporter Framework via a Field Study of Adolescents’ Perceptions of Technology and Exercise. Human Technology; Special issue on The End of Cognition, 9 (2). pp. 131-156. ISSN 1795-6889

Edwards, Helen, McDonald, Sharon, Zhao, T and Humphries, Lynne (2013) Design requirements for persuasive technologies to motivate physical activity in adolescents: a field study. Behaviour and Information Technology. ISSN 0144-929X

McDonald, Sharon, Zhao, T and Edwards, Helen (2013) Dual Verbal Elicitation: The Complementary use of Concurrent and Retrospective Reporting Within a Usability Test. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. ISSN 1044-7318

Zhao, T. T., McDonald, Sharon and Edwards, Helen (2012) The Impact of two different think-aloud instructions in a usability test: a case of just following orders? Behaviour and Information Technology. pp. 1-21.

McDonald, Sharon, Edwards, Helen and Zhao, Tingting (2012) Exploring Think-Alouds in Usability Testing: the Findings of an International Survey. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 55 (1). pp. 2-19. ISSN 0361-1434

Edwards, Helen, McDonald, Sharon and Young, Michelle (2009) The repertory grid technique: its place in empirical software engineering research. Information and Software Technology, 51 (4). pp. 785-798. ISSN 0950-5849

McDonald, Sharon and Edwards, Helen (2007) Who Should Test Whom? -The Use and Abuse of Personality Tests in Software Engineering. Communications of the ACM (CACM), 50 (1). pp. 66-71. ISSN 00010782

Book Section

Humphries, Lynne and McDonald, Sharon (2006) Gender Differences in the Navigation of Electronic Worlds. In: Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology. idea-group, pp. 577-582. ISBN 1591408156


Edwards, Helen, McDonald, Sharon and Zhao, Tingting (2011) Children's Health: Evaluating the Impact of Digital Technology. Final Report for Sunderland City Council. Project Report. University of Sunderland, Sunderland.

Conference or Workshop Item

Heritage, John, McDonald, Sharon and McGarry, Kenneth (2017) Integrating association rules mined from health-care data with ontological information for automated knowledge generation. In: The 17th Annual UK Workshop on Computational Intelligence (UKCI-2017), 6-8 Sep 2017, Cardiff.

Abdulhakeem, Idris, Edwards, Helen and McDonald, Sharon (2017) E-commerce adoption in Developing Countries SMEs: What Do the Prevailing Theoretical Models Offer Us? In: 4th International Conference on E-Commerce, 18-20 Sep 2017, Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Gandy, Elizabeth, McDonald, Sharon, Hogg, Robert and Pigott, Timothy M.C. (2017) Observing the Observer: experiences with contextual inquiry to design a horse rider assessment interface. In: British HCI 2017 Conference Digital Make Believe, 3-6 Jul 2017, Sunderland, UK.

McGarry, Kenneth and McDonald, Sharon (2017) Computational methods for text mining user posts on a popular gaming forum for identifying user experience issues. In: British HCI 2017 Conference Digital Make Believe, 3-6 Jul 2017, Sunderland, UK.

Idris, Abdulhakeem, Edwards, Helen and McDonald, Sharon (2017) E-Commerce Readiness of SMEs in Developing Countires: A Model-Driven Systematic Literature Review. In: UKAIS 2017:22nd Annual Conference, 3-5 Apr 2017, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, UK.

McGarry, Kenneth, Emery, Kirsty, Varnakulasingam, Vithusa, McDonald, Sharon and Ashton, Mark (2016) Complex network based computational techniques for edgetic modelling of mutations implicated with human diseases. In: 16th UK Workshop on Computational Intelligence, UKCI-2016, 7-9 Sep 2016, Lancaster University.

McDonald, Sharon, McGarry, Kenneth and Willis, L M (2013) Thinking-aloud about web navigation: the relationship between think-aloud instructions, task difficulty and performance. In: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 30 Sep - 4 Oct 2013., San Diego, California, USA.

McDonald, Sharon and Petrie, H (2013) The Effect of Global Instructions on Think-aloud Testing. In: ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2013, April 27 – May 2, 2013, Paris, France.

Edwards, Helen, McDonald, Sharon and Zhao, Tingting (2011) Exploring Teenagers' Motivation to Exercise through Technology Probes. In: 25th British Computer Society Conference on Human Computer Interaction: HCI2011. In: 25th British Computer Society Conference on Human Computer Interaction: HCI2011, 4-8 July 2011, Newcastle, UK..

Humphries, Lynne and McDonald, Sharon (2011) Emotion faces: the design and evaluation of a game for preschool children. In: CHI 2011: annual conference on Human factors in computing systems 2011, 7-12 May 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Edwards, Helen, McDonald, Sharon and Young, Michelle (2010) Choosing field methods: a reflection on a rep grid study. In: 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: NordiCHI 2010: Extending boundaries, 16-20 Oct 2010, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Zhao, T and McDonald, Sharon (2010) Keep Talking: An Analysis of Participant Utterances Gathered Using Two Concurrent Think-Aloud Methods. In: 6th Nordic Conference on Human Computer Interaction, 16 - 20 Oct 2010, Reykjavik, Iceland.

McDonald, Sharon (2009) Experiential video logs for usability testing. In: 10th Annual Conference of the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Science, 25-27 Aug 2009, University of Kent at Canterbury.

McDonald, Sharon (2008) An investigation into the use of field methods in the design and evalutaion of interactive systems. In: 22nd British Computer Society HCI group conference: Culture, Creativity, Interaction (HCI 2008), 1-5 Sep 2008, Liverpool, UK.. (Unpublished)

Monahan, Kelly, McDonald, Sharon and Cockton, Gilbert (2006) Modified Contextual Design as a Field Evaluation Method. In: Fourth Nordichi conference on human computer interaction.

McDonald, Sharon and Hindmarch, Mark (2005) A Tale of Two Hierarchies: The Surprising Impact of Age on Hypertext Browsing. In: Proceedings of HCI 2005: The Bigger Picture.

Edwards, Helen, McDonald, Sharon, Thompson, Barrie and Young, Michelle (2005) Personality Characteristics in an XP Team: A Repertory Grid Study. In: ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes, 16 May 2005, St Louis, Missouri, USA.

McDonald, Sharon and Tait, John (2003) Search Strategies in Content-Based Image Retrieval. In: Proceedings of the 26th ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval.

McDonald, Sharon, Lai, Ting-Sheng and Tait, John (2001) Evaluating a Content Based Image Retrieval System. In: Proceedings of the 24th ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retreival.

Young, Michelle, McDonald, Sharon, Edwards, Helen and Thompson, Barrie (2001) Quality & People in the Development of Situationally Specific Methods. In: Second Asia-Pacific Conference On Quality Software (APAQS�01), 10-11 Dec 2001, NEW WORLD RENAISSANCE HOTEL, HONG KONG.

This list was generated on Sun Jul 3 14:49:31 2022 BST.
  • Usability evaluation methods
  • User resarch methods
  • User models
  • User experience design
  • Navigation and information seeking behaviours
  • Personality assessement (level A and B)

Last updated 16 November 2021