Research Falsification in Accounting Literature: A Survey of the Most Prolific Researchers' Actions and Beliefs

Abacus, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2001

Posted: 17 Aug 1998 Last revised: 10 Dec 2012

See all articles by Charles D. Bailey

Charles D. Bailey

James Madison University

James R. Hasselback

Florida State University

Julia N. Karcher

University of Louisville - Department of Accountancy

Date Written: November 29, 2000

Abstract

Incidents of research misconduct, especially falsification, in the hard sciences and medicine have been widely reported. Motives for misconduct include professional advancement and personal recognition. Accounting academics are under the same tenure, promotion, and recognition pressures as other academics; and, without the life-and-death issues of medical research, rationalizing misconduct in accounting research seems much easier. It is reasonable to assume that dishonesty has occurred, even if little evidence exists about its prevalence. Further, accounting research can influence tax policy and market conditions, affecting people’s lives. This study is, to our knowledge, the first attempt to survey accounting researchers directly as to their ethical practices; it uses the randomized response technique of addressing sensitive questions. To maximize its relevance to the most respected accounting research, this questionnaire was sent only to the most prolific researchers at US colleges and universities who have published in the “top 30” accounting journals. The results indicate that serious misconduct has occurred among these established accounting researchers. The estimated percentage of seriously tainted articles in the top 30 accounting journals, based on self-reporting, is about 4 percent, while the respondents on average believe that about 21 percent of the literature is tainted. Faculty who were tenured more recently provide higher estimates of the falsification rate, and attribute more of the cause to external factors like tenure pressure. The paper concludes by discussing implications and offering policy recommendations.

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Bailey, Charles D. and Hasselback, James R. and Karcher, Julia, Research Falsification in Accounting Literature: A Survey of the Most Prolific Researchers' Actions and Beliefs (November 29, 2000). Abacus, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2001 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=115488

Charles D. Bailey (Contact Author)

James Madison University ( email )

Harrisonburg, VA 22807
United States
901 484-0867 (Phone)

James R. Hasselback

Florida State University ( email )

Tallahassee, FL 32306-8234
United States
850-644-7884 (Phone)
850-644-8234 (Fax)

Julia Karcher

University of Louisville - Department of Accountancy ( email )

Louisville, KY 40292
United States
502-852-4821 (Phone)
502-852-6072 (Fax)

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