Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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No, top tier association journals do not have topics they favour

I guess it bears repeating as I get asked this at almost every time I open the floor for doctoral students and junior faculty member questions – association journals in accounting do NOT have favorite topics.

Journals tend to publish a reasonably representative sample of what is submitted to them – even the American 3 as I like to call them.  TAR does this in accordance with its mandate and JAR/ JAE do it by author self selection not to submit papers.

You may say well there are very few of this or that published in this or that journal.  Well how many submissions were received on this or that topic??  You see, we can observe the numerator but not the denominator.  Well, I can tell you I have seen the denominator at more than one journal and in context it sure makes the numerator look impressive.

The sad part is that there is a huge amount of self censorship in our business.  Nobody likes rejection but the old saying holds, a journal cannot publish papers on topic X using method Y if no one submits such papers.  Indeed, before one can declare a bias at least 15 papers on XY need to be rejected given a 10 % acceptance rate and allowing for sampling bounce.  Likely this under estimates sampling bounce!

From high in the mountains of Virginia . . 


In the field in Florida

i have spent a great eleven weeks at UF in Gainesville!  9 incredible assistant professors who are very diverse ( by American standards)!  9 very bright and eager to learn doctoral students!  

The experience of teaching these students made it clear to me that there is no wonder the American academic accounting establishment does not want field research methods taught to their doctoral students.  they might actually do some interesting field research to complement the more traditional US methods they learn!  Unbelievable how open these “best and brightest” students were to learning about field research and how much they got into it – AND as overload class!  Mind you the free pizza lunches might have helped!

Anyhow of to Queen’s with a little meet and greet at VT University in Blacksburg along the way!  

The “added” senior co-author

The joy of being in Florida is that I get a lot of US centric questions that I never get to hear in Canada or in the rest of the ROW!

While adding a senior co-author to a nearly finished manuscript has been around for quite a while (unfortunately in my mind) especially in the financial archival area, I am hearing that it is spreading to not only other archival realms but to other paradigms.  This I think is troublesome on many grounds – first it leads to vita inflation for the senior authors;  second it sends a very bad signal to more junior academics that merit of ideas can be trumped or at least supplemented by the name of the author (especially problematic one would think in non-blind review journals like JAR); third it suggests that all co-authors are not equal yet I rarely see the senior author who has been added late to the paper out of alphabetical order (indicating equal effort).

The solution is simple in my mind – have a clear statement, like much of the science literature has (and increasingly other areas of social science especially psychology), where the exact contribution of the author to the paper, including whether they were there at the beginning of the paper’s production or were added later, should be made clear.

Certainly there are valid reasons to add a co-author after the project has started.  The need to access certain specialized data that was not part of the original plan, the need to add certain statistical expertise that was not envisioned as being needed by the original co-authors, the need to add additional experiments and hence access to new subjects that a co-author can provide, or the need to do some field research to understand a finding and the original authors are not comfortable with doing the field work that is needed even in a limited manner.

Personally, I do not recall ever joining a project after the empirical work was commenced.  Nor have I ever added a co-author to one of my projects after the empirical work has commenced.  I have added co-authors after the original idea was developed as I needed folks with special skills, special access etc   Indeed, the only time I have joined projects after the analysis has been done is with former doctoral students who are having difficult times publishing their thesis papers.  There, the added work beyond all the supervisory work at the beginning, makes it relatively easy for me to justify joining the project.  After all I have shepherded it through many steps and provided numerous thoughts along the way.  Getting deeper into writing the paper is just the last straw that in my mind breaks the camels back and leads to co-authorship.  But this is a questions for another day – when do dissertation papers result in co-authorships with supervisors?  While the US answer historically has been clear – not so much in the ROW.  More later on this point.

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