Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Is there a place for abstract non-economic experiments in accounting research?

I was recently asked by a top MIS journal to review a paper for them.  It was an experiment using a theoretical base that I knew well.  The experiment featured a convenience sample of students carrying out an MIS related task that the authors claimed needed no in-depth knowledge of MIS at the technical level.  Further, the issue was one of what would an MIS related actor do if he or she discovered the problem.  In other words it was NOT a user oriented task but a production oriented task.

I had to ask myself the question, what can we learn about MIS from an experiment carried out by a sample of students on a task that was MIS production oriented (i.e. coding) yet claimed to need no MIS specific technical knowledge to carry out????

Sounds like a generic psychology experiment to me about human information processing with an MIS cover story to go along with it.  Indeed, having sit on a recent PHD in psychology dissertation committee, the cover story would not have looked out of place in their experiment.  But the psychology student claimed he was studying basic human information processing.

It was a very well done experiment but for the life of me I could not figure out what I learned about MIS from reading it.  Yet there were all sorts of claims about the fact that this experiment had implications for MIS (along with any other substantive subject matter that could fit into that task features).

Field research, encore

I recently noticed a call for field research in financial accounting from a very unusual source.  Yes, the Journal of Accounting Research (JAR) published a discussion of an archival empirical piece from the 2013 JAR Conference that encouraged and called for financial accounting researchers to enter the field and discuss their assumptions and findings with relevant market participants.  The discussant carried out a mini-field study on the paper he was assigned to discuss and determined the market participants not only disagreed with the rationale provided by the authors but also had a compelling alternative theoretical basis (once translated by the author in academic language) that better (?) explained the results.

See the following citation for the details.  It is worth the time to read.

SOLTES, E. (2014), Incorporating Field Data into Archival Research. Journal of Accounting Research, 52: 521–540. doi: 10.1111/1475-679X.12047

The problem with using BYU data

Thanks to David Wood for weighing in! But his intervention reminded me of a big problem with that data set.

Most of us have interests that span a base discipline be it psychology, organizational behavioral, economics, finance, sociology etc. further, most of us work and n a business school that realizes there is the FT 39, the other 39 FT journals beyond accounting. Then we have to realize there are journals in these related fields that do not make the FT list such as business ethics quarterly, corporate goverenance: an international review, law journals of some repute, etc. etc. etc. most of these journals have citation rates well above many of the FT45.

Do we really just want to promote accountants who can publish in accounting journals leaving all others aside???? My bet is almost everyone promoted at top 50 US MBA schools in accounting have more A publications than the byu data suggest. And that is the BIG problem with that data. It is a double edged sword in that it both understates and overstates academic productivity of accountants.

Just at Queen’s I know this is the case. I have had three hires in the decade plus that I have been here, all that made tenure easily with five A level pubs plus other minor things. NONE of whom had four accounting FT6s. We had had cases with journal of business ethics, organization studies, etc! Does this mean we are a tough or loose tenure granting school in accounting?

This is why we need to think beyond what our limited data bases can tell us and consider what truly are stretch goals that are reasonable nut challenging!

Four or more is a score! or is it?

I had a long conversation in the not too distant past with a former TAR Senior Editor, a head of a major accounting department, and a well respected head of a Big Ten PhD program.

Our consensus opinion was that given all the facts we knew about publishing research in accounting that a tough but achievable standard for top-tier accounting departments to set as the standard for promotion and tenure was four insightful top tier accounting publications plus a couple of other contributions.  Top tier being defined as American Three or North American 4/5 or Top Five (RAS or AOS excluded).  We all knew that at least in the USA folks cannot list more journals then the have fingers and thumb on one hand so it is hard to make the case for the FT6 accounting journals.  In other words if we talk management accounting for a moment a “stretch” but not an impossible goal for a well trained, well motivated new PhD with the resources of a major accounting department, likely with a doctoral program (albeit there are noticeable exceptions Notre Dame, Boston College and the like) behind them.

Yet at the same time we know that many schools state the target at six A level publications (as defined in the previous paragraph) with a handful saying more?  What sort of dysfunctional choices does that lead young academics to having a target that is well beyond “stretch”?  The BYU boys report that the median publications of promoted faculty in the top 15 US MBA business school is 5.9!  So are we setting a reasonable target when only scholars at the top 15 US MBA program have on average achieved that benchmark (i.e. 50% of all those promoted had six publications) ???????  What about 1/3 promoted at these top institutions that did not have the magic number 6????  Were those mistakes?????

I ran a few numbers using my love-hate BYU data base.

2007-2013 there were a total across all ranks of about 95 accounting authors had six or more publications in the FT6.

2000-2007  there were a total across all ranks of about 95 (no typo) accounting authors had six or more publications in the FT 6.

NOTE that is across ALL ranks.  As I read through the former list I was able to safely say that over 60% of those on the list were folks that began the year 2007 safely tenured many of them being full professors.

More soon.

Three, four, five, six, seven or more A’s, B’s or C’

Yes indeed it is that time of year again where more senior faculty get loads of requests for promotion and tenure reference/review/assessment letters.

Some schools have rules like that a majority of the letters must come from “peer,” “higher,” “private” or “public” universities often with combinations of those terms arranged in different ways! Others require letters be written only from a select set of senior faculty from a certain set of universities that are in a discipline whether or not they know anything about the research area of the candidate.

Then comes the fun one: what is the magic combination of quantity and quality? How does a letter writer figure that one out? Hence, the title of this post!!! I have had some recent discussions on this question and as usual I have looked at some data?

More to share with you on this as the week goes on!

What’s missing????

The CAAA is a member centred organization according to it latest newsletter.

Must be members of the mushroom family as newsletter fails to mention the organization is without an Executive Director!!

So much for keeping the folks who write the cheques up to date!!!!

Maybe it should be called the missing news letter!

Prima donnas in accounting!

If you are one you are probably not reading this blog ! Too bad as there is so much you can learn!

How to keep promised deadlines for journal reviews!
Editing manuscripts in a timely fashion!
Keeping your committee activities up to date at the association or section level!
Giving reasonable response times to doctoral students!

No, but it is ALL about you isn’t it?

You write nasty notes to editors after your manuscript has been under review for 75 days!
You take your time on revisions to articles and then demand your co-authors turn things around on a dime ( I admit this is one of my BIGGEST failings that puts me close to the PD category! – some would say I am one but I disagree and I digress!😜)
Ask your colleagues for comments on your paper over the weekend, complain if you do not get them, BUT never comment on a paper yourself!

Yep, we have our share of PD’s in our profession! The biggest concern is when they get into positions where they can really gum up the works – like being journal editors and presidents of associations and sections! Then we all pay the price for putting up with their PD ways over the years!

So just say NO the next time a PD makes an impossible demand or carries out their task poorly! STOP being enablers for these dysfunctional people and make it costly for them to continue on their merry self- centred ways! After all, it is so about them they are likely to miss it!

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