Accounting Research Methods and Research Fields

Seminar Paper, 2015

15 Pages, Grade: A




Forms and Nature of Research

Applications of Research in Accounting





Accounting Research Methodologies

Qualitative Research Methods




Research method is a critical human practice that offers exclusive access to valid and accurate knowledge, and has an exclusive lead against errors that are not found and exist in other human activities. Moreover, it is challenging to define accounting research since it shifts over time. Traditional accounting research was mainly normative (this is, argument for the ‘correct’ accounting intervention, or what should be). However, with the introduction of the Journal of Accounting Research, developments or progresses in finance have been established, such as creation of huge data sets and the statistical capabilities for its analysis (computer advances), the efficient market hypothesis, and analyzing ‘what is’ instead of ‘what should be.’ Even though these shifts have had some critics, they have led to a major increase in research contribution (and various new journals) (Libby, et al., 2012). Additionally, accounting research contributes an integral part in new knowledge creation. The hard sciences have generated different forms of testing and research that may be applied over a range of disciplines, such as accounting research. With the application of these accounting models with evidence from experiments, surveys, stock prices, financial statements, mathematical proofs, and computer simulations, users can acquire a scientific perspective. This paper, therefore, discusses accounting methods and accounting research fields (i.e. financial, managerial, auditing, and taxation).

Forms and Nature of Research

What is research? Why do a research? And what types of research do most researchers execute? Such questions are most vital due to the continuous trends of confusing research methodology and forms of research. Secondly, the choice of research methodology is mostly based on the purpose and form of research. Thirdly, such questions are central to the controversy that surrounds the alleged irrelevance of accounting research to the actual challenges experienced by accountants. Collins (2013, p.172) states that it is the consideration of accounting research as a “monolithic activity in its thrust, methodology and impact and pressing toward a single well-defined and mutually accepted goal”, activating researchers’ unreasonable expectation. However, this sense of crisis is not limited to accounting, where Zarli and Scherer (2011), organizational science professions, consider that “research methods and techniques have become more sophisticated, they have also become increasingly less useful for solving the practical problems that members of organizations face” (p.526).

According to Popper (2014), research is “the development and testing of new theories of 'how the world works' or refutation of widely held existing theories” (p.13). Research is a diligent or careful search; intellectual analysis or inquiry, such as experimentation or investigation focusing on the interpretation and finding of facts, revision of approved laws or theories to enhance new facts, or also the practical use of these revised or new laws or theories (Koumpis, 2012). These two research definitions show that research, such as accounting research, is (i) intended to produce, revise, or disprove new laws or theories; (ii) founded on analysis of data/facts or pure logic; and (iii) both a process and an activity. Essentially, the core purpose of research is “theory” (Koumpis, 2012). Moreover, empirical research intends to explain and understand natural trends through gathering, analysing, and interpreting research facts or data.

Concerning accounting, terms including ‘behavioural research,’ ‘capital market,’ and ‘positive research’ are applied to explain forms of research. ‘Positivism’ and ‘positive’ came from philosophical perspective and most researchers have used them in economics, although at times confused with ‘empiricism’ (Zhang, 2013). ‘Positive’ has been often used as a ‘trademark’ or ‘label’ for identification of a form of research that explains and predicts accounting practice, which is more different from normative research considered prescriptive. Behavioural accounting and capital market research studies are grouped under positive research. Moreover, capital market research focuses on microeconomic approaches for testing hypotheses regarding the response of securities markets to the declaration of accounting information (Bamberg & Spremann, 2012). Further, behavioural research focuses on the accountants’ behaviour and how non-accountants are affected by this accounting information (Bamberg & Spremann, 2012). Another component of positive research is termed ‘agency theory’ research focusing on the moral risks in an agent-principal relationship and the problem of information asymmetry, with application of the economic theory of contracting.

Applications of Research in Accounting

Research may be used in any accounting field. Research can be used in various aspect of accounting, such as accounting ethics, capital market studies, investment, corporate finance, environmental accounting, corporate governance, financial reporting, and corporate social responsibility, among others (Zhang, 2013). As a result, it may be stated that, perpetually, all accountants are the potential researchers and all problems in accounting require extensive and effective research. Accounting research fields can be classified into four key fields: Auditing, Taxation, Financial, and managerial accounting research fields.


In taxation, research may be used for the investigation of the tax evasion and revenue generation at the three layers of the government; or to assess revenue assurance mechanism and governance costs at these layers; or to assess the role of IGR on revenue generation at these layers; or to examine accountability, transparency, and prudence in revenue management; or to perform an impact assessment at all these layers (Smith, 2011).


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Accounting Research Methods and Research Fields
( Atlantic International University )  (School of Business and Economics)
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Accounting, Accounting Methods, Accounting Research Fields, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Auditing, Taxation
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Musbau Kolawole Kayode (Author), 2015, Accounting Research Methods and Research Fields, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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