Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Readable results

On day three of the AAA Annual gabfest I have a suggestion to offer to some authors!

Spend more time of your results slides! I mean this from at least two points of view:

1. Make results slides readable! Do not cut and paste from your paper’s tables! If results are to be seen, the set them up in readable font! It is not by accident that the default font on most templates is set at 24 pt! And NO – an apology for unreadable results presentation is NOT enough. It suggests either ignorance or lack of regard for your Audience!

2. We do not need to see slide after slide that proves you can read! You got into and/or graduated from a doctoral program! If you do not know the literature it will quickly become apparent when you present your method, design and contribution! And NO, the purpose of presenting is not to show you can do a biased towards your hypothesis literature review! Tell us what is new and how you learned it.

Finally, if you have hypotheses, present them. Saw one presenter who showed unreadable results slides annotated with hypothesis numbers but nary an hypothesis presented in the presentation!

Over expansion over ambition overspending

This is the year of the “over” at the AAA. A lot of chickens are coming home to roost. My analysis is that it is a bit of a perfect storm. In no particular order:

Long-term contracts for food and beverage at conferences ended making conferences a losing money big time propositions. Issues with the journal production process and the bankruptcy of our publishing house, Edwards, probably did not help on the cost front.

The over reliance on the windfall that was digitalization of the AAA journals and the agreement with EBSCO that resulted in a large revenue windfall was used to subsidize membership fees for ten years by limiting the fee increases to $5 a year (do some math on that one versus the base membership fee of about 275 a decade ago – no where near inflation which would have suggested a wee bit more).

The over ambitious agenda of the AAA leadership around and leading up to the 100th anniversary and a lot of investment in activities that did not have a revenue stream associated with them.

Likely there are more but no time for a forensic audit!

Of the three, I pick the middle one as likely the biggest problem. The digitalization revenues were not split with the section journals, that is, the sections only got print revenues while still being charged with journal production costs! This was an added central bonus that masked the problems for a few more years. However the AAA is not alone in facing this, the CAAA did the exact same thing but on a smaller scale and the chickens came home to roost there two years ago!

Practical relevance in research

I had an “a ha” moment today in attempting to explain why the individual research paper is NOT the unit to focus on for practice relevant knowledge.

If you know anyone who has back yard chickens ( normally hens) they will tell you in great gory detail about the inconsistency in egg laying among their hens. Some days they do not lay an egg and some days several! Let’s assume the same applies to commercial egg operations! The key point is that this is not relevant to the consumer of eggs. When they go to the grocery store they purchase eggs in boxes of six or twelve.

In other words the production function of individual hens and consumer purchase for consumption have little to do with each other except at farmers markets and speciality grocery stores (and my neighbour who goes without eggs for breakfast if no hen lays eggs that day).

We need to stop thinking that practical relevance is a product of a single academic article. Practical relevance is demonstrated by knowledge transfer to practitioners that synthesizes a body of relevant research articles for a practical problem. We all know in theory that one article does not generalize, so why do we find it so hard to see that the generalizability of research to practice is not in units of individual academic papers????

I think that it is due to those involved being producers, where every egg counts, rather than consumers that want to buy a half a dozen!

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