The purpose of this paper is to provide a career guide for doctoral students in accounting. It is divided into three main sections: Foundational Guidance, Research Guidance, and Publishing Guidance.
Foundational Guidance includes the following subsections:
Research areas and research methodology,
Seminal contributions to the accounting literature,
Time management, Collegiality, and
Faculty research and research expectations.
According to a prior study 49 percent of accounting research is related to financial accounting, 20 percent involves management accounting topics, 14 percent pertains to auditing, 10 percent is tax related, and 5 percent is in the area of information systems.
Research methodologies used for accounting research include archival research (56 percent), behavioral research (23 percent), experimental research (12 percent) and analytical research (9 percent).1
The authors recommend seminal contributions to accounting literature as foundation reading for doctoral students and provide an appendix for those papers. In the time management section they emphasize self discipline indicating that freedom with time is not free time. They also emphasize the importance of collegiality, e.g., providing others with feedback on their research
The last section under foundation and guidance includes a discussion of faculty teaching and research expectations. The following table summarizes that discussion. Note that the first 3 tiers only include about 90 schools, so there are a fairly large number of colleges in tiers 4 and 5.2 As noted in the table below, Hasselback's 2013-2014 Faculty Directory includes accounting faculty for over 1,000 four year schools. 3 Also note that teaching expectations vary from 2 classes per year for faculty at the top research schools to 8 classes per year for faculty at tier 5 schools. Research expectations are considerably higher at the tier 1 and tier 2 schools with lower expectations at tier 3, 4, and 5 tier schools.
Teaching and Research Expectations of Faculty*
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4||Tier 5|
|Examples||Chicago, Stanford, Rochester||Most Big 10 conference schools||Many Big 12 and SEC conference schools with a doctoral program||Carnegie Research schools without a doctoral program in accounting||Regional
|Teaching expectations per year||Two classes||Three classes||Four classes - Usually two course preparations||Four to six classes with two or three course preparations||Six to eight classes with two to four course preparations|
|Research expectations for tenure||Demonstrate leading scholarship in your area of research. Multiple "A" level publications.||Two to four "A" level publications. Publications in "B" level journals carry significantly less weight.||At least one "A" level and multiple "B" level publications. "A" level publications receive greater weight, but "B" level pubs are also valued.||"A" level publications are usually not required, but publications do count.||Publications in refereed journals, research journals, and conference proceedings|
|Accounting Doctoral Program||Yes, students place at Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools.||Yes, strong placement record in Tiers 1 and 3.||Yes, but placement not as strong.||No||No|
"A" = Publication in the top accounting journals: The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting and Economics, Accounting, Organizations and Society, and Contemporary Accounting Research.
"B" = Publication in a high-quality journal such as the AAA section journals.
|* Adapted from Table 1 in Beyer, B., D. Herrmann, G. K. Meek and E. T. Rapley. 2010. What it means to be an accounting professor: A concise career guide for doctoral students in accounting. Issues In Accounting Education (May): 227-244.|
|** The first 3 tiers include approximately 90 schools. Tiers 4 and 5 include many more schools. For example, Hasselback's Prentice-Hall Accounting Faculty Directory includes accounting faculty for over 1,000 four year schools.|
The authors begin this section by saying that research is the currency of academics. This is because of the scarcity of research talent in relation to teaching talent, and the fact that research is peer reviewed.
In a subsection related to generating research ideas they mention the Social Sciences Research Network as a source of current research papers and recommend reading papers in related areas such as finance. Ideas for research come from many sources including reading research papers and the financial press, and talking with practitioners, colleagues and students. The difficult part is not generating ideas, but deciding which ideas to pursue, i.e., ones that will result in a productive research stream.
The authors also recommend developing a considerable amount of depth in a particular research area noting that there are economies of scale when you focus on a single research area. They also argue that you should force yourself to write and make research a priority.
Before seeking a academic position at a research university a new Ph.D. needs a research pipeline, i.e., perhaps three or four working papers, typically from his or her dissertation.
This section includes comments related to selecting a Journal for your publications, formatting the papers, the review process, and celebrating your success.4
1 The research methods mentioned in this paper are narrowly defined as archival, behavioral, experimental, and analytical. For an expanded discussion of research methodology see MAAW's research methods section, particularly the publication by Buckley, Buckley and Chiang. A sample graphic adapted from this publication appears below.
4 The MAAW web site is a very useful resource for both potential and current Ph.D. students. The main purpose of the site is to categorize accounting literature from the past 100 years. MAAW includes over 150 bibliographies, by Author, by Journal and by Topic including the journals mentioned in this paper.