How do I Pursue Academic Research in Accounting?

There are many types of scholarly research done at today’s universities and think tanks, but academic research in accounting is one that tends to be either forgotten or unknown among the general public. Even so, research in the accounting profession is extremely important. This research helps to define new Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and guidelines, it sets new procedures and precedents for auditing, and is absolutely required if accounting coursework is going to become even more useful to future business, finance, and accounting students at major universities. With that said, exiting accountants and academics might not understand exactly how they can get involved in this important area of research. There are a few paths into this field that are actually pretty easy to follow.

Start By Enrolling in a Graduate or Doctoral Degree Program

The major split between undergraduate degrees and their graduate or doctoral counterparts is research. At the undergraduate level, students are taught how to practice a skill. At higher levels, those students are taught how to think about the skill, how to research the skill, and how to advance the profession. This is true for accounting and many other fields. For graduate students, a graduate thesis opens an opportunity for guided research alongside an esteemed member of the university faculty. While some schools might allow graduate students to propose their own research topics, others simply ask students to take part in an existing, ongoing research process where their help would be most useful. Doctoral students, on the other hand, can often propose their own topics and perform research at a pace that best fits the subject area and professional conventions.

Consider Becoming a Professor at a Major University

While students have a limited, on-time opportunity to participate in research while they study graduate and doctoral accounting topics, professors are virtually required to engage in scholarly accounting research during their tenure at a major university. Professors set the topic, tone and timeline of their own research, giving them ultimate control over how their efforts will transform the accounting profession and guide it into the next era of auditing, accountability, and consumer service. Professors also have the opportunity, as mentioned earlier, to work alongside students as they perform this research, making the position even more rewarding.

Work Alongside Scholarly Accounting Journals

The most concentrated area of accounting research is in academia, where professors work in labs and among the general public to transform the accounting profession and guide it toward new ethical and professional guidelines. That’s not the only area where research can be performed, however. Many accounting professionals work alongside scholarly journals based in the United States, Canada, Australia, and virtually every other country around the world. Many perform self-guided research with funding from think tanks, lobbies, and professional accounting organizations, in an effort to further the interests of accountants and the broader profession. Their work will typically be published in a journal upon completion, and may have consequences that are just as far-reaching as any research performed in a college’s dedicated research labs.

Accounting Research is Essential to the Profession

Accounting research has yielded modern GAAP guidelines, auditing best practices, and a more resounding embrace of technology in the profession. Professionals who wish to participate in academic research in accounting have numerous options available, all of which will benefit the profession in a major way for years to come.