Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Methods and reviewing


After three years of reading only CAR papers and papers associated with the little research I was doing myself I am beginning to catch up on back logged papers from the time I was away. This term I am teaching a doctoral seminar on experimental research in accounting and using it as an excuse to read a lot of financial accounting behavioural research – a field that has really been busy over the past decade.

One thing I have noted is the increased use (or put better misapplication) of path analysis, especially via Structural Equations Modelling (SEM). This method can be so easily misapplied if one is not careful with what one is doing that I strongly caution anyone asked to review research think twice about it if you are not already deeply acquainted with the method. SEM cannot be learned in a hour or a day but it takes three to five days of full time guided study to become minimally competent to conduct and properly access a SEM application.

Given the vastly varying quality of published applications in top tier accounting journals it is obvious to me that many reviewers and editors do NOT know how to evaluate such models!!! So stop faking it and if you do not know how to use a method DO NOT bluff your way through a review and hope for the best. After all SEM has not been a staple research method taught in accounting PHD programs until very recently and you should not be ashamed to admit that you cannot access such a complex method without in-depth study.

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