23 December 2019
Professor Nancy Su Stands out in the ROAR World Rankings
The relevance of accounting academic research to practice has been frequently discussed in the accounting academy; yet, very little data has been put forth in these discussions. A recent paper by scholars from Brigham Young University constructs relevance of accounting research (ROAR) scores by having practitioners read and evaluate the abstract of every article published in 12 leading accounting journals for the past three years (2016-2018). The ROAR scores allow for a more evidence-based evaluation and discussion of how academic accounting research is relevant to practitioners.
The research asked professionals to read the abstracts of every article published in the 12 journals for the three years from 2016 to 2018, with each abstract being read by 5 professionals. Once the professional read the abstract, they answered four questions: “Would you like to read the full article?” “Would you share this article with a colleague?” “Could you apply this research to an existing or anticipated issue?” “Would you invest time or resources to learn more, expand, or follow-up on this topic?” The sum of the scores from the five professionals determines the total score of each article, which is the ROAR score.
Table 6 of the article presents the results ranking individual faculty members sorted by overall ROAR score, trying to show who produces the greatest quantity of research relevant to practice. For individual authors the ranking only presents scores aggregating the data by summing ROAR scores of all their publications, not an average score. ROAR also analyzes whether more experienced authors are producing more practice relevant research. That is, one reason often articulated for granting professors tenure is that they can work on more risky or time consuming projects. This analysis suggests that author experience is not associated with the production of more practitioner relevant research.
Professor Nancy Su, head of the Accounting Department of Lingnan University, ranked 42nd in the ROAR's comprehensive global ranking. There are only two professors from universities in Hong Kong ranked world's top 50, and Professor Su is one of them. Her RAST article of 2017 has topped 680 financial accounting articles.
The hope of the research is that by producing these rankings, it will encourage journals, institutions, and authors to produce and publish more practice relevant research. One of the key findings in this study is that the traditional top 3 and top 6 journals are not producing the most or the greatest average amount of practice relevant research, especially for certain accounting areas. These top 3/6 journals publish “the best” academic ideas, but not necessarily the most practice-relevant ideas.
A second important finding is that contribution should be a much larger construct than is previously considered in the academia. Reviewers, editors, and authors narrowly define the contribution an article makes and are too often unwilling to consider a broad view of contribution. The research encourages the AACSB, AAA, and other stakeholders to make a more concerted effort to increase the focus on practice-relevant research. This may entail journals rewriting mission statements, editors taking a more pro-active approach, and training of reviewers to allow articles to be published that focus exclusively on “practical contributions.”