Musings on Accounting Research by Steve
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Submissions

With our modern day editorial systems submitting papers can be more challenging than it should be. As editors of journals that I submit to know, I am not the best at adapting to these systems. But I do try to be complete and if I screw up I immediately inform the editor.

A long term issue that really grates on me is authors leaving out the research instrument, or submitting one that cannot be read without a microscope!! Nearly all journals that accept survey, experimental or field research require the instrument ( using the term loosely to include interview prompts). Yet my recent experience at BRIA and my longer term experience at CAR suggests that between one third and one half of all such manuscripts are submitted without them or with one that is not readable.

Authors, what sort of impression do you think that makes on the individual who assigns editors and reviewers? Is that really how you want to start the review process, already down by a goal (especially if that goal is a soccer/ football goal)? It is a tough game we play so at least get right the things you can control!

What do you do with a tardy editor?

Luckily so far I have not had to deal with one, but it has been on my mind a lot lately given some pretty signficant delays I have encountered at a variety of journals for my own research. 60 plus days from reviews being submitted to editor decision, 75 days for an editor decision on a final round (no this is not PO’B at CAR – she was in a whole other category entitled 100’s of days) etc.

So what is a Senior Editor/Editor-in-chief to do when someone you trusted enough to ask to be your Editor turns out to be afraid of making decisions (or moves too slow or is too lazy or is overcommited).  Indeed, I have heard of journals where one of the co-editors-in-chief could not make a decision!!!  So what do you do?

First, you continue to love and respect them.  You admired them when you asked them to be an Editor with you and that has not changed.  Try always to remember that when you are pulling your hair out, blaming them for your hair turning grey or for falling out!!!

Second, you “remove” them from the job.  After several assignments (after all who is not a bit slow the first time they edit a paper) and a clear performance improvement chat that included blunt talk about service standards, they should not be assigned more papers. Why?  Because it is like looking for the lost contact where the light is good rather than where the contact was lost!!! or It is like pressing the same set of buttons on a remote control hoping that a different response will come from the devise!! or Attempting the same computer command time after time expecting it to work different!  NOT GONNA HAPPEN – guaranteed!!!!  This should be obvious by the end of the first year of a three year term so do it now!!!!@

So what does “remove” mean?  Maybe they are still a great reviewer – so assign them reviews to do!  Maybe they can organize conferences well – well assign them conference tasks!  But what it does mean is that you as the Senior Editor/EIC have to get a new person to edit that type of manuscript.  Yep, it is a hazzle and yep it comes just as you are getting really busy at the start of your second year – but consider the alternative – two more years of reminding, nagging, apologizing for the editor, etc etc etc.  Talk about losing a friend! Better to bite the bullet (no idea why that phrase is used but it means “do it now”) than carry on.

more “interesting” BRIA papers

We continue on our mission to learn more about research methods by examining two issues in this first year.

  1. how do on-line worker’s differ from the general population?  W. Brink et al give us some interesting insights into how the values of on-line workers depart from that of the general population.  No surprise here really, I certainly expected them to be different, but what ones? how extensive? were they in areas of interest to accounting researchers?  These are all discussed in this paper.
  2. Recently I accepted a review of dual process theories of human decision making applied to financial accounting and investing.  We recently have seen an uptick in research using dual process theories in both audit and financial accounting research.  Griffiths et al (2016) in AJPT discussed the issue from an audit perspective.  Winchel and Hamilton have a forthcoming piece in BRIA looking at it from the application of finanical accounting. One of the key observations among many that they make is that “heuristic or intuitive or peripheral processing or type 1 thinking” (they all mean in essence the same thing with slight variations) has got a really bad rap over the years, because experimenters set up experimental tasks in such a way that it is rare that deep thinking (i.e. a more rational person approach) does not win.  They point out implicitly, that if this type of thinking was a bad as experimental researchers portray it, we as a species would not have survived so long.  Anyhow, great paper that provides a unifying framework to consider a lot of financial accounting experimental and archival research and that suggests a lot of research directions for the future!  I can foresee a few dissertation papers coming out of this one!!!

One of the neat things about dual process theories is that they are strongly supported by neuroscience evidence and they combine a lot of smaller phenomena (with associated theories) from psychology into one overall theoretical framework.  In other words the commonalities of dual processing theories show that the notion that psychology is all over the map with its theorizing is not really the case.  Those of us who have thought carefully about this know it, but for many researchers (even psychology based ones) they still find this surprising!

dJ

What else have we accepted?

Another paper that is sure to raise some interest (and or hackles) is a very careful study (by Khan and Tronnes from Australia) that suggests like other experimental disciplines, audit behavioral research features a little too many just made the cutoff papers (i.e. p<0.05 and P<0.10).  Mind you, on a percentage basis it appears that it is lower that other disciplines but nonetheless it is signficant both statistically and meaningfully.

Some commentators on the paper feared it would be used to show experimental audit researchers in a bad light as it has no evidence about how audit archival researchers trim their data to achieve the same time.  Now, in my mind, finding a problem in one area and documenting it does not mean you have to find all the dirty linen in our academic closets at once.  No doubt others will be coming along shortly showing a similar pattern in archival audit research (matter of fact I know at least two sets of authors doing work in this area).

In any event a paper that had a hard time being published – at least in auditing journals!!!!

MoreBySteve grows up

Well, after blogging for nine years I finally took the plunge and registered a domain name!!!  What does that mean for you the loyal reader – no MORE ads on the old blog site!!!

Several folks have mentioned they would like to have a comment function on the site.  I was puzzled by this observation as I have always had the comment function set up (moderated mind you) but still set up.  Indeed, a couple of readers comment on occasion.

Finally figured it out – you have to read the individual blog post – not the home page to find the comment function.  So just click on the blog title and you will find the entry reloads and the comment function “leave a reply” opens as a text box at the bottom of the page!!!  And that’s it!!!  You can comment and I may even post your comment!!!

What have we accepted at BRIA – Year 1?

I have been remarking as I travel around the world that the volume of manuscripts has not changed much over previous years but the quality has gone way up!!!  This presents both good news and challenges.  For a world of accounting that likes to focus on rejection rates, sorry folks, my rejection rate is going down.  For the world of scholarship – good news – we are accepting articles that would have a problem finding a home elsewhere despite their being important topics.

The first paper our team accepted was a field study of governance committees (by Dana Hermanson et al forthcoming in issue 1 of 2019).  Governance Committees are second order actors in issues that accountants study themselves (i.e. governance pick the pool that is available to fill the audit committee, etc). Furthermore, the authors objected to a lot of excessive theorizing – we know from lots of field studies in North American governance at least that it takes a combination of agency, resource based view and power theories in order to account for the diversity of practices in corporate governance.  Nonetheless, the paper had been done very well and we decided that the push for excess theorizing was getting a little out of hand.  Mind you, we requested that the authors do more theoretical analysis than they wanted, but in the end we had a meeting of the minds!

New ??? Directions for Audit Research

Now onto the qualitative methodology folks and their suggestions about new directions for audit research! As I listened to them speak I had a strong sense of déjà vu that dated back at least a decade if not more.

I sat at the Congress (recall I am at an EAA early morning plenary) trying to figure out what is wrong. Simply put there was little passion on the panel for what they were presenting. Indeed, the only passionate actor was pushing for studies of audit beyond the financial audit as if there was nothing that needed study for in financial auditing.

If academics cannot get passionate about their suggestions for future research endeavours – what can we get passionate about? So I poked them awake by posing the question in terms I knew they would react to if there was any passion on the panel – I compared their presentations to some of the malaise I observe in archival audit research forums on the same topic.

It was an interesting reaction. Of course there were the two overly defensive responses but the panel sat upright and began to show some spirit. And the questions and suggestions from the floor were also spirited.

I know that there is a lot of new ideas floating around audit qualitative research. We have three examples at Queen’s of PhD students doing interesting and innovative qualitative research in audit.

I close with the observation of one panel member after it was over, maybe the panel could have been a bit younger if we wanted to truly focus on new ideas!

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