Research Topical Areas
If you are a practicing accountant, these topical areas will be familiar to you: financial reporting, auditing, managerial accounting and taxation. Most students enter our accounting doctoral program with some institutional knowledge in one or more of these areas. However, we welcome students with backgrounds in Mathematics, Economics, Engineering, Finance, Psychology or other related disciplines to apply, and we can remedy any lack of accounting knowledge through additional coursework.
Financial accounting researchers are interested in the use of accounting information by investors, creditors, analysts and other decision makers. We are also interested in the preparation of accounting information by managers who may respond to economic incentives and use discretion to manage earnings. Finally, we are also interested in the regulation of accounting information by standard setters and other regulators who are evaluating the relevance and reliability of current and potential accounting information.
Auditing researchers are interested in questions of independence, governance, compliance, auditing processes and biases. Again, this research helps global standard-setters and regulators adopt standards and policies that protect the integrity of our accounting information.
Managerial accounting research topics include optimal employee compensation and governance, using information for efficiency management, motivating creativity, and others.
Taxation research covers topics of tax policy such as economic incentives, transfer pricing, compliance with tax enforcement, multistate taxation, and numerous topics about accounting for income taxation, where tax rules overlap with financial reporting standards.
When you earn a doctorate, most of your time is spend developing deep expertise in research methods. There are three main methods used by accounting researchers: Archival methods, Experimental or Survey methods, and Analytical methods. In all cases, your doctoral studies will involve strong grounding in statistics, and typically a choice of either economics or psychology as an additional foundation.
Archival research involves the statistical analysis of historical data to examine relevant research questions that are based on economic theory for its predictions. Thus, archival research requires a strong background in both statistics and economics, both of which we provide at University of Texas through rigorous coursework in the business school and the economics department.
Experimental or survey methods are commonly used to obtain data to conduct what is broadly known as behavioral research. Behavioral research relies on Psychology for its theories. Because this research is interested not just in what people do, but why they do it, it is often necessary to conduct controlled experiments or to survey participants. Researchers in accounting and finance using experiment or survey methods have provided compelling alternative explanations where economic theories sometimes fall short.
Analytical research uses quantitative, mathematical models to explain and predict behavior. This research is grounded in game theory from economics. Students wanting to conduct analytical research should have even stronger mathematical backgrounds than other applicants. We will design a program of study that builds on those initial strengths with additional coursework in mathematics and economics.