Musings on Accounting Research by Steve
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Really, you HAVE to have a paper under review at a Big 3/5/6/ journal to get a job!

Wow, another myth ( or it should be a myth)!

Doctoral students have told me recently that an “important” criteria for them to get a campus visit during recruitment is that they have a paper under review ( apparently first round will do) at TAR or an equivalent journal. Indeed, I am reliably informed that some students submit very early working papers, ones that still need a lot of work, so as to comply with this supposed imperative of the ” job market.”

If true then it gives more ammunition to post modernists who would trot this out as yet more evidence that the academic job market in accounting only relies on performative influences and no one takes the time to evaluate the substance of research and an individuals potential to contribute! And they would be right.

My guess is this is yet another “folk story” based on one ” big mouthed” student’s experience ( probably due to a faculty member at a school that turned them down for an site visit not wanting to have a long awkward conversation with a less than successful student) getting passed on and on so that it reaches the status of conventional wisdom. More on why this is a horrible idea to comply with, even if it is true, soon!

Last post about ABO Conference and a observation about PhD program design

One of the more intriguing things I noticed at the ABO Conference was the seamless integration of field, survey, and experimental research in the conference. It was as it should be, becoming a non-event.

More than anything this is what I had hoped for 25 plus years ago when I used field research as part of my dissertation at University of Michigan. We are moving in the right direction, having the method fit the research question – a suggestion I first heard from Bill Kinney in 1988!

How do we help PHD students get to this point? Kristina Rennekamp from Cornell gave me a look like “what planet are you on?” when I asked her about what does Cornell do to get its behavioural students ready to use multiple behavioural methods? “Coursework in surveys and qualitative research methods” was her reply! It was so obvious to her that it did not merit mention!

That too is how it should be! Eight years ago when we redesigned the PHD program at Queen’s we paired three six week introductions to experimental, field and archival research in accounting courses ( yes I know we leave out analytical models but with no one on faculty . . . . . ) with four six week methods courses in experimental design, survey research, qualitative methods and regression ( the remaining six week course was taken in fall of second year) delivered across the first year combined with later more in depth courses. This is just one example of how to balance the demand for broader behavioural methods training with the pressures of program design!

And the winner of the BRIA best paper award is . . .

As Senior Editors we are not asked to play favourites among our children (accepted papers). But we can celebrate the decisions of others! Sally Widener and colleagues creativity and control paper is the winner of this year’s BRIA best paper award!

Getting serious about big data research

It was nice to see the ABO section taking the lead on thinking about big data research. Two panelists (Steve Kaplan and Mandy Chen) brought very different perspectives to how we might approach big data and even more broadly Artificial Intelligence research from a behavioural perspective.

One of the key messages that I heard from the panel was that at times we are too good, as academics, at seeing the underlying structural issues of practice problems. There is so much research in both psychology and BAR about data presentation, pattern matching, and related topics that we do not realize that practitioners in AI and Big Data might not see the links. Why? because the surface features are so different. Steve Kaplan calls this academics needing to look for low hanging fruit, I call it a classic case of analogical reasoning difficulties when the surface features of a setting are too different to easily generate an analogy by busy practitioners trying to make a living. Lots of strong research on this analogical transfer problem by DeidreGunter and her colleagues.

Good example of ABO research was a paper on data visualization (Yibo (James) Zhang’s research). Zhang saw current data presentation issues in online annual reports through the lens of 1970’s era research by Shane Moriaty on the use of faces to transit complex financial statement analysis ratios. while the surface features are very different, it is a good structural analogy that when combined with later visualization research lead to some interesting hypotheses and results in zhang’s research.

But Steve and Mandy gave numerous examples of how these, what appearing on the surface a huge new challenges, can be studied via clever use of social and behavioural researchers core competencies.

Panel musings

When I attend a panel session I always believe I am blessed if I come away with one or two insights or ideas! The ABO panel on what’s cool in behavioural research exceeded my expectations.

Kristina Rennekemp’s observations about how to deal with a perennial US problem about access to professional participants seems obvious once you read it but ex ante I would never have connected the dots. Among her suggestions:

1. Use of targeted surveys to help focus in on key experiential issues prior to running a focused efficient experiment.

2. If you believe you know the key issues run the experiment and use surveys to expand on your results.

3. Use your experimental design class better! Remember there are efficient experimental designs like Latin squares and others beyond full factorial designs that allow for much smaller sample sizes.

4. Where appropriate use more available participants to focus in on what are the key factors that your smaller participant pool of “best” participants can then focus on.

Finally , do not assume you will be turned down without asking and providing a rationale as to why participating in your research is a win win.

While I understand that dating is something rare in the modern world, think of it like not going on line based on a belief that you will never match another no matter how many questions you answer. The act of not asking someone out or not going on line to start with be leads to a guaranteed outcome!

ABO meeting Day 1

I have a luncheon talk about “a third of a century of ” progress” in behavorial accounting research”. For careful readers of the blogs (this one and it predecessor careditorsteve)I pulled together and an elaborated on themes I have discussed previously about the need for diversity in accounting research.

This morning waking up in Phoenix I get another sign I was on track with my conclusion that for social and behavioural researchers ” our time is finally here”. JAR’s December issue has two of five papers featuring strong behavioural experiments. It really has been a long time since one issue of JAR has featured multiple experimental papers! Well done to the authors and to JAR’s editors!

P.s. the ABO doctoral consortium appeared to a a real hit with doctoral students and faculty alike! Amazing keynote by Steve Kaplan. Great questions from doctoral students both as part of their preparation and in person!

In Phoneix at the ABO mid year meeting

The ABO MYM almost always falls on Canadian Thanksgiving! Indeed it is almost by design as Canadian Thanksgiving is on the second Monday in October and the ABO meets on the second weekend in October! But I digress.

Spent two hours last evening meeting behavioural doctoral students from all over the world! Singapore, Australia, Various EU countries, Americans from all sorts of different Universities, a venerable United Nations in the desert of the USA ( notice the double meaning here). An group of enthusiastic young people working on their networking skills in a pretty protected environment, a pre- doctoral symposium cocktail party!

Networking is a learned skill and how to do it is hard for an essentially introverted set of folks like accounting PHD’s. Why is it important? It helps find co-authors, it allows one to casually check out research ideas, learn about the job market including the inside scoop about U’s you might want a job at and more! The keys to networking can all be learned from the handshake (unless religiously or culturally inappropriate then a formal bow or some other acknowledgment), to the ability to give a 30 second clip about yourself and your program, to having a few good stories about yourself, your university, and your department especially your supervisor. For introverts at first it is hard work but as the old line goes about how do you get to Carnegie Hall. “Practice practice practice”. (Carnegie Hall is a leading arts performance venue in New York City and for out of town performing arts troupes it is a location that if you play at you are considered to be successful)!

More later as the Conference develops!

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