Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Citation worries or worriworts?????


Every so often some learned senior academic accountant gets up on his/her high horse about:

a) the low overall level of citations of accounting research

b) the lack of impact that accounting research papers have on other academic disciplines

c) how practitioners do not read academic accounting research (normally directed at financial accounting research but also at audit and managerial on occasion).

Over time I will deal with all three of these rather felicitous charges but today I will comment on the first one as I recently found a data source directly on point.

Thomson Reuters in its publication Science Watch and its predecessors has for a number of years published studies about relative publication rates of top journals in various fields of social science and science (humanities are normally based on books not articles so they are not covered by these studies).  So using these studies, I asked the following question:  do other applied disciplines like accounting have similar citation rates in their top journals.  Lets compare Chemistry to Chemical Engineering;  Physics to optics/optometry; Physics to electrical engineering etc  You get the idea I think.

You have to dig to find these data as over time the categories have become more aggregated but the information is there.

What did I find?  Consistently the rates of citations of the more applied areas were substantially lower than of the more basic research.  Top Chemistry journals are cited much more frequently than Chemical Engineering.  Physics much more that Optics. etc etc etc.


Furthermore, among the applied areas, the closer one got to areas that were professional  (e.g. optometry) citation rates were at or lower than the citation rates of accounting journals.


So the next time you hear about how low accounting citation rates are – ask the following question:  Low in comparison to what???????

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