Gathering Data for Archival, Field, Survey, and Experimental Accounting Research

Posted: 15 Jul 2016

See all articles by Robert J. Bloomfield

Robert J. Bloomfield

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Mark W. Nelson

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Eugene F. Soltes

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 1, 2016

Abstract

In the published proceedings of the first Journal of Accounting Research Conference, Vatter [1966] lamented that “Gathering direct and original facts is a tedious and difficult task, and it is not surprising that such work is avoided.” For the fiftieth JAR Conference, we introduce a framework to help researchers understand the complementary value of seven empirical methods that gather data in different ways: prestructured archives, unstructured (“hand-collected”) archives, field studies, field experiments, surveys, laboratory studies, and laboratory experiments. The framework spells out five goals of an empirical literature and defines the seven methods according to researchers’ choices with respect to five data gathering tasks. We use the framework and examples of successful research studies in the financial reporting literature to clarify how data gathering choices affect a study's ability to achieve its goals, and conclude by showing how the complementary nature of different methods allows researchers to build a literature more effectively than they could with less diverse approaches to gathering data.

Keywords: archival, data, experiment, empirical methods, field study, survey, financial reporting

JEL Classification: M40, M41, B40, C81, C90, C91, C92, C93, C99

Suggested Citation

Bloomfield, Robert J. and Nelson, Mark W. and Soltes, Eugene F., Gathering Data for Archival, Field, Survey, and Experimental Accounting Research (May 1, 2016). Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 54, No. 2, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2809325

Robert J. Bloomfield

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

450 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-9407 (Phone)
607-254-4590 (Fax)

Mark W. Nelson (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

448 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-6323 (Phone)
607-254-4590 (Fax)

Eugene F. Soltes

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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