Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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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.

1 Comment

  1. daw44 says:


    As you know, we have a couple of papers on this. We put a lot of the data online and so you can find it at What I think is a particularly interesting look at the data is to just look at the distribution of successfully promoted faculty at the top 75 institutions ( If you do this, then about 50% of the successfully promoted professors (going from assistant to associate) have 4 “As.” About 15% have 6 or more. What should be the “magic” number (or should there even be a number) is a great question for the academy to debate.

    If you want any additional numbers, I’d be happy to try and produce them.

    David Wood

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