Is There a Confidence Interval for That? A Critical Examination of Null Outcome Reporting in Accounting Research

62 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2018 Last revised: 12 Mar 2021

See all articles by William M. Cready

William M. Cready

University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management

Jiapeng He

University of Texas at Dallas

Wenwei Lin

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Chengdao Shao

Xiamen University

Di Wang

University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management, Students

Yang Zhang

University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management, Students

Date Written: February 2, 2021

Abstract

This study evaluates how accounting researchers analyze and report null outcomes based on a large sample examination of recent accounting research publications. As null outcomes reflect an inability to reject a null they, unlike rejections, do not lend themselves to specifically conclusive interpretations. Rather, drawing useful inference from them requires fundamental descriptive analysis. In the 35 articles we identify as presenting substantive null outcomes, however, inappropriately conclusive interpretations of these outcomes are widespread while scant attention is given to providing the descriptive analyses needed to draw useful insights from them. The analysis also proposes and illustrates the use of descriptive techniques in the form of confidence intervals as an appropriate approach for interpreting null outcomes.

Keywords: Null Hypothesis, Null Outcome, Confidence Interval

JEL Classification: B41, M40

Suggested Citation

Cready, William M. and He, Jiapeng and Lin, Wenwei and Shao, Chengdao and Wang, Di and Zhang, Yang, Is There a Confidence Interval for That? A Critical Examination of Null Outcome Reporting in Accounting Research (February 2, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3131251 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3131251

William M. Cready (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management ( email )

P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

Jiapeng He

University of Texas at Dallas ( email )

800 W Campbell Rd
Richardson, TX 75080
United States

Wenwei Lin

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management ( email )

321 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Chengdao Shao

Xiamen University ( email )

Xiamen, Fujian 361005
China

Di Wang

University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management, Students ( email )

P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

Yang Zhang

University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management, Students ( email )

P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

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