Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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If research is not cited did it actually matter

I am Sherlock Holmes fan, the nerdy Holmes not the sexy ones. I wonder what Holmes would find out if he investigated the case of the Missing Citations? Almost 25 years ago Larry Brown carried out a detailed study of citations of accounting research and concluded that an article with 4 ( four) cites a year in the SSCI ( known to younger readers as web of science) from the time it was published was a “classic” accounting article!

Now I think I have authored a couple of ” classics” but a wonder what the cutoff would be these days? Also, I wonder what % of top journal articles are never cited in Accounting? Finally, and to me the key question is, is it a necessary, but not a sufficient condition, for an article to be cited for it to matter?

Mulling over these thoughts!

My European “junket”

When I set out to be BRIA Senior Editor, I promised the ABO executive that I would not be hiding behind my desk but out actively promoting the journal so that its innovations would be obvious around the world.  Last Spring/Summer it was Australia where I got to connect with a great group of authors and potential authors for BRIA as well as some key people on my Editorial Team.  This spring/summer brings me to Europe where I will be in attendance at the European Accounting Association in Milan, the Dutch Foundation for Audit Research in Amsterdam, the International Symposium on Audit Research in Maastricht, and the Global Management Accounting Research Symposium in Copenhagen.  My normal mix, an open accounting conference, an academic practitioner conference, an audit conference and a management accounting conference.

What BRIA innovations will I highlight?

  • Replications – and encouraging more replications
  • Survey instrument validation – separating the development of instruments from the substantive application in a way that is persuasive
  • Methods pieces – how to do BAR research better and or differently
  • Theory pieces – applying theory to social and behavioral accounting research in novel ways
  • Field research as a foundational behavioral approach.

While we are not ignoring our history of producing significant original research, we recognize there are many competitors in that market.  However, despite the rhetoric from some other journals, we are serious about our innovations (if I wanted to cast stones, I would suggest you look at the first regular issue of the Journal of Finanical Reporting (volume 2 no. 1) and see how little innovation is actually present – but of course I would not do that!!!!) So if you see me (and at 195 cm or 6′ 5″ it is not hard to do) chat with me!!!  I look forward to seeing you on your “home turf”!



Readers or Companions

I have run across a couple of “readers” or “companions” to accounting research lately.  Both are part of the Routledge series – one on Auditing (Hay, et al 2015) and one on Behavioral Accounting Research (Libby and Thorne, 2018).  (NOTE:  Conflict of interest statement:  I was invited to contribute to both – lost the Hay et al email so never did; I did contribute a chapter and some advise on organizing the BAR book).

The Auditing book in some way is a lost opportunity – it could have been structured to deliver cutting edge research results in a digestible manner to the masters level classroom.  Instead what we received was the standard literature reviews across many topics of relevance but without any sense of are these comprehensive reviews, did they systematically search the literature, how can you tie the articles to specific standard audit classroom topics, etc.  I am not certain who the audience for the book is intended to be – junior PhD students, accounting faculty?????  The authors did a great job of getting some of the top people in auditing to contribute papers, but it could have been so much more!

The BAR book is somewhat better oriented in that one can see its obvious application – a research course focusing on behavioral accounting research methods.  The book has an obvious structure (see the COI note above), in that it follows the predictive validity model that was made “famous” in accounting circles by Bob Libby in his 1982 monograph from Prentice Hall.  Further, the BAR Companion has the first written expansion on one of the most famous footnotes ever, the last footnote in Kinney 1986 (the Accounting Review) that forms the basis of his famous (or infamous depending on whether you had to deal directly with Bill) three paragraphs.  While Bill has delivered extended discussions on the three paragraphs at doctoral consortium all over the world, this is the first (I believe) extend exposition of the process and the thinking behind it.  Whilst Robert Faff in Australia has made famous (or infamous with the same caveat as above) his “pitching research” approach, Kinney’s three paragraphs predated this considerably (and incidentially requires one page versus three – does that say something about North American versus rest of world research!?!)

Elesvier fun and games

Elesvier has apparently changed its Editorial Management system for journal submissions.  It has caused some interesting emails to be sent.  A couple of examples:

  1. march – an email from a senior accounting journal telling me both reviews were in and the editor would be making a decision shortly.  never had this happen before and i wonder if i got the editor’s email instead as some 22 days later still no decision.
  2. april – got an email from a senior accounting journal reminding me that my review was LATE.  The email went on to tell me that my review due date was April 28.  Last I checked, there is still 12 days until April 28 (and this is not a revised due date it is the original due date).

Gotta love editorial management systems.  Mind you as one who has been around long enough to have to submit three paper copies of articles, mail  them in to the editor, and to get papers to review by mail, I still understand we are much better off than before.

But, as a Senior Editor at the AAA, it reminds me that I can live with the quirks of AllenTrack if this is the sort of thing changing EM systems brings.  Let the next much younger senior editor deal with that switch – PLEASE.

But speaking of publishing

My first issue as BRIA Senior Editor is coming along!  The first paper formally accepted by my team was edited by Bertrand Malsch and is a field study of governance committees in public companies.  Shortly after than Donna Bobek Schmitt accepted a methods empirical piece examining characteristics of MTurk workers at might affect the interpretation of the results of accounting experiments.  Finally, I accepted a paper on methods about P-hacking in experimental research with a focus on audit experiments. We also have a number of papers for regular articles, replication studies, a null results paper and other methods pieces that are well along the publication path.

To cap this all off, I just received agreement from the AAA Editorial Offices that we could title our “Research Notes” section with what it has become: “Methods, Notes and Replications.”  Look forward to this in the first issue of 2019.

I want to thank our new managing editor, Nate Smith, for readily agreeing with this change.  I also want to thank our departing managing editor, Jake Bateman, for the great work he has done on the transition between editors and for the high level of professionalism he brought to the roll. Jake left the AAA to pursue other interests in beautiful Florida (yesterday was his first day of work there).

Best to Jake and welcome Nate!

(if you do not think I noticed the alliteration, you would be wrong!)

updating the publishing model

It has been 10 months since I took over as BRIA Senior Editor.  The first issue of 2019 will be my first issue as Senior Editor.  Rick Hatfield’s papers will fill the journal for the rest of 2018. (Yep you have read those dates right!).

These long lags are part of the reason that a decade ago I championed the use in journals of “Early Views,” “Accepted papers” and a variety of other names as headings for the posting of accepted papers online as early as possible.  It seemed then, as it seems today, that it is ridiculous that we await publication of papers for months if not sometimes years (yes, you journal that takes years know who you are) for papers to be published “officially”.

The day of formally releasing journal issues is likely soon to be gone.  And I for one will not be sorry to see it go!!!!

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