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Threads on the American
Accounting Executive Committee Decision to Cease Publication
of Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Dissent on this controversial issue eventually led to a reversal of the Executive Committee decision. All commentaries in this document are now ancient history. However, they do provide historical evidence of the power of modern communication technology to voice immediate and widespread dissent. Technology has become most powerful when democracy commences to fail.
If you want to voice your concerns to this matter, please contact the
following AAA Executive Committee members whose email addresses are conveniently
provided by Jim McKinney.
The e-mail addresses of the Executive Committee are:
taken from http://raw.rutgers.edu/raw/aaa/about/ec2003.htm
The Council is found on: http://raw.rutgers.edu/raw/aaa/about/council03.htm
Messages Before After April 10, 2003
Message from G. Peter Wilson, 2002/2003 President of the American Accounting Association
Reply from Bob
Jensen (including a commentary on journal costs, budgets, and political
I find President Wilson's comments about costs, benefits, and risks to be entirely biased and not based upon full and fair disclosure of the facts.
Message from Anne Christensen (former President of the American Taxation Association)
Letter from Amy Dunbar
Congratulations to Jim Largay and the Editorial Staff of Accounting Horizons
Letter from Wanda Wallace
Several Messages from Paul Williams followed by a Replies from Jagdish Gangolly and Dan Stone
Message from Jim Hasselback
Message from Dennis Beresford
Message from Tom Howard (Current Editor of Issues in Accounting Education)
Message from David Stout (former Editor of Issues in Accounting Education)
Letter from Shyam Sunder
Message from Amelia Baldwin
Letter from Frances L. Ayres
Message from Roger Collins and a Reply from Amy Dunbar
Letter to William Felix (President-Elect of the American Accounting Association) from Alan Reinstein
April 10, 2003 Appeal from Dan Stone (and a reply from Paul Williams)
Messages Received After April 10, 2003
April 12, 2003 Reply from Bob Jensen (followed by Reply from Jason Xiao)
April 12 and 15, 2003 Messages from G. Peter Wilson (President of the American Accounting Association)
April 12, 2003 Message from Jim McKinney
April 12, 2003 from Wanda Wallace (Followed by a Reply from Bob Jensen)
April 14, 2003 Message from Susan H. Ivancevich
April 18 and 23, 2003 Messages from David Stout (Former Editor
of Issues in Accounting Education)
And a Reply from Craig Polhemus
AAA Teaching and Curriculum Section Newsletter for Spring 2003 (Excerpt)
Other Messages After April 10, 2003
Messages Before After April 10, 2003
current American Accounting Association President, G Peter
Executive Committee benefited greatly from the advice Council offered
recommendations related to the Association-wide journals. In particular,
we spent the majority
of our Sunday meeting addressing two questions raised by Council: Why
the two existing journals rather than start a new one? Why not survey
before making a decision? In the process of addressing these questions,
and forcefully argued virtually all of the issues that were raised by
Council. I have
summarized the key points that were considered during these discussions
extensive deliberation, the Executive Committee voted unanimously in
favor of the
recommendations we presented to the Council on Saturday, which were put
forth by the
task force and supported by the Publications Committee:
We recommend that a single Association-wide journal be developed that
those with interests in applied scholarship and instructional
journal would include submitted and commissioned articles on curriculum
teaching materials and strategies (cases, assignments, novel approaches
methods), applied research on issues and controversies in practice and
integrative applications of research to teaching and accounting
practice. Like TAR,
the focus would be on all sub areas of accounting (managerial,
financial, etc.). In
addition, book reviews should be moved from TAR
to the new journal. 2.
The new journal will continue in print form and be published quarterly,
but will also rely
more on technology to improve service to subscribers. Cost, timeliness
and use of multimedia applications suggest that some of the
may be better suited to summary hardcopy publication combined with
online publication. Articles relying on software and data bases,
materials, and AAA policy-related committee reports are excellent
this approach. Without a decrease in page count, savings on printing and
should exceed $25,000 per year.
The peer review process should be designed to ensure that the journal is
the highest quality applied scholarship and instructional development.
and department editor models similar to those used by many journals
seriously considered for the new journal. Editor transition issues must
also be addressed.
TAR should focus
exclusively on basic scholarship and be the only association-wide
with that focus. As
detailed later, Saturday’s session with the Council:
influenced our decision to support these recommendations.
us a clearer understanding of the risks associated with replacing
Issues with the new journal.
ways to manage these risks.
us a deeper appreciation for the opportunity costs of going with the new
which caused us to scrutinize the benefits more closely.
our confidence that the new journal will succeed because its underlying
incorporates the most important success factors associated with
meetings, as identified at Saturday’s Best Practices session.
again the benefits that are accrued when the Council and Executive
work together on an important issue and gave us great hope that the
will help insure that the new journal becomes a great success.
getting into the details, I would like to preview three big-picture
factors that greatly
influenced my thinking on this issue and probably had similar effects on
others on the
lessons I learned from the Best Practices session profoundly affected my
to vote in favor of the recommendations. Joe Carcello’s
"something for everyone"
considerable reflection, I concluded that we needed to make the decision
rather than delay it until we could survey members. After spending
time Sunday analyzing the feedback we received from Council, the
Committee and the task force, the Executive Committee was leaning
heavily towards favoring the new journal. We also agreed that a
would likely not inform our decision significantly (for the reasons
later) and that related delays could aggravate the risks associated with
transition to the new journal. Based on these points, I concluded that
if we were
likely going to go ahead with one journal eventually, we should make the
immediately to minimize the transition risks.
anticipate that we will encounter some initial resistance when the
that we plan to replace Horizons and Issues with the new journal because
Executive Committee, Publications Committee, and task force have
similar reactions whenever we have proposed the idea to new
However, for reasons detailed later, we believe that we can begin to
this resistance by holding a "town hall" forum at the annual
meeting. In addition,
I plan to discuss the issue at the regional meetings I attend during the
couple of months. I am also hoping that many of you on the Council will
explain the reasoning behind the new journal to colleagues in your
at the risk of omitting important perspectives that influenced our
analysis, I will
some points that were raised when the Executive Committee addressed two
that were posed by Council on Saturday.
not improve the two existing journals rather than start a new one?
had a lengthy discussion comparing the costs and benefits of creating
versus improving the existing journals. In particular, we analyzed the
that were raised by Council: (a) the brand equity risks associated with
(b) the brand equity risks associated with members’ resumes — the
that discontinuing Horizons and Issues could potentially devalue
articles, and (c) the short-term brand equity risks associated with new
— the concern that authors may be reluctant to submit to Horizons and
once they know that the journals will be discontinued in the future. We
a question raised by Amelia Baldwin: Why can’t we apply whatever
have in mind to insure that the proposed journal is first rate to the
two existing journals? Related to this question, we also assessed the
synergy benefits of combining applied
scholarship and instructional development into a single journal
are some of the key points that were made when we discussed these
Executive Committee believes that the financial risks associated with
can likely be managed to acceptable levels if not eliminated
by working closely with the intermediaries who sell the subscriptions.
risks associated with members’ resumes may be more problematic. As
in the background notes that were distributed Saturday, concern about
perceived quality of Horizons and Issues is one of the factors that
Executive Committee and Publications Committee to start this initiative,
risks will be more than offset by providing an exciting new outlet for
research and instructional development. However, it is difficult to
extent to which the perceived quality of these journals will be
the proposed journal replaces them. We hope to mitigate this risk by
to the membership that (a) This does not mean that the perceived
of these journals is low — they have published many notable papers
years and they have had respected and dedicated editors, editorial
boards, and authors,
and (2) We will do our best to communicate the change with library
as a renaming.
short-term brand equity risks associated with new submissions could also
There are at least two ways to try to manage this risk. First, the
Committee can try to control it as best as possible by working with
editors of Issues and Horizons. Second, the Executive Committee has
reduce this risk by not delaying the decision on the new journal. This
shorten the transition period and encourage everyone involved to focus
to best manage the transition. As indicated earlier, concerns about
delay risk greatly
influenced Sunday’s decision to go forward with the new journal as
also spent considerable time addressing one of Amelia Baldwin’s
can’t we apply whatever strategy we have in mind to insure that the
proposed journal is first rate to the two existing journals? We believe
that we could
take steps to improve Horizons and Issues but there is at least one
reason why the resulting journals would not be as good as the new
do not believe that the two existing journals can achieve the
teaching-practice-research synergies discussed earlier and thus they can
not help draw us together
by highlighting our common interests. We also believe that a "clean
and the innovative concept for the new journal will attract a deep pool
prospective editors, editorial board members, reviewers, and authors.
Again, this believe was reinforced by Saturday’s Best Practices
session. We have plenty
of evidence from the section and region meetings that: (a) there is a
for forums that offer "something exceptional for everyone" by
teaching-practice-research synergies and (b) there are numerous talented
who have proven that they can produce first-rate mid-year meetings to
demand, and by extension can likely help produce a first-rate
that will be built on a similar concept.
way to appreciate the power of capturing these synergies in a single
is to consider the following hypothetical question. Would the sections
had highly successful mid-year meetings have been anywhere near as
if they had conducted separate mid-year meetings for teaching and
Based on what I learned at Saturday’s Best Practices session, my
definitely not. The sections would likely not have captured these
and they would likely not be as unified because the mutual respect that
not survey the membership before making a decision?
least three of you suggested that we survey the membership. After
extensively, the Executive Committee decided not to conduct a survey for
have already solicited input from the Council, which represents the
of the membership. I hope by now that I have convinced you that the
input has had a significant productive influence on our deliberations.
already expanded the task force to include the Chairman of the
Committee and Vice Chairperson of the Teaching and Curriculum
were concerned about delaying the decision for the reasons mentioned
suspected that the survey results would be predictably unreliable. As
indicated on Saturday, thus far we have met great initial resistance
have recommended to a new audience that Horizons and Issues should be
with the new journal. We have met similar resistance, but to a lesser
when members initially see the background points, goals, and
that we distributed to the Council on Saturday. However, we
found that most members support replacing Horizons and Issues with
journal once they debate the issues with us thoroughly and gain a better
of the costs, benefits, and risks of the various alternatives. These
lead us to conclude that the underlying issues are complex and
to communicate in writing. Also, even if we were to debate the issues
with a random sample of members, we doubt that we would learn
we have not already learned from the Council, Publications Committee
force. Still, the survey suggestion and the above analysis motivated us
a discussion forum at the annual meeting. Hopefully this forum will help
gain a better understanding of the costs, benefits, and risks associated
proposed new journal. We also expect that attendees will help us
risks and ways to manage them.
I want to thank the Council for all of the valuable insights that you
issue and, more generally, throughout the Saturday sessions. As we enter
stage, I hope that you will help us make the new journal a great success
us manage the transition risks. We have a great opportunity to
the value proposition through this journal but we must continue to work
together to realize
|Bob Jensen's Reply
to my two most prized American Accounting Association journals.
The President of the AAA, G. Peter Wilson, stated the following:
President Wilson also stated that:
Bob Jensen's Commentary
There does not seem to be any link between President Wilson's conclusion and research. If there was no membership survey or even a systematic sample survey, how can he draw a conclusion the members really want to drop the two journals and replace them with one journal (actually Accounting Horizons content is not really intended to be replaced)?
Furthermore, I find his conclusions about costs, benefits, and risks to be heavily biased and not based upon full and fair disclosure of the facts. My comments on this are shown below.
My perception of quality of Issues and Horizons is far different than those who perceive them as low quality. I worry that the leadership of the AAA is getting more and more detached from the educators and teachers of accountancy in colleges around the world. For example, I find the cases published in Issues in Accounting Education to generally be outstanding and useful to me in my teaching. I have previously written commentaries praising these cases. For example, see http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/book01q3.htm#IAE
me down for a NO on this decision to drop these particular important
The current AAA Executive Committee is totally out of touch with the membership on this decision and is afraid to put the issue to the entire membership in a mail ballot. I am virtually certain that it would not pass. I imagine that the Executive Committee is afraid to poll the membership regarding the perceived usefulness of the Issues and Horizons journals to teachers of accounting vis-a-vis The Accounting Review.
Pete Wilson refers mentions "low quality" of Horizons and Issues without providing a shred of evidence in this regard. The Accounting Review is held out to be the premiere research journal of the AAA, but the Executive Committee does not consider the research papers important enough to even publish replications. See "Are accounting researchers really seeking truth?" at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/book02q4.htm#Replication
When you do comment on the AAA's Executive Committee's contention that Issues in Accounting Education has low quality content, you might note that the latest (May 2003) issue takes up a huge block of pages for Joel Demski's "The Curriculum Challenge." Joel is the immediate Past President of the AAA and is currently on the AAA's Executive Committee. I think he feels that "The Curriculum Challenge" is high quality work or he would not have given it prizes and praise (see Page 22). I note that he chose to publish this work in Issues in Accounting Education.
I might also point to Pete Wilson's publication "Teaching and Learning can be Energizing," Issues in Accounting Education, June 1999 Professor Wilson is the current President of the AAA who has expressed the greatest concern over quality of publications in that journal.
Considerations for the Cost Side of the Argument
am astonished that anyone could suggest that this change makes financial
sense. There is a serious matching problem here -- citing cost
savings without referencing revenue that will obviously be lost as a
result of this decision. The decision should stand on its
academic, programmatic, or other merits, and not be buttressed by a
clearly false (presumably mistaken) or incomplete and misleading
number cannot be considered in isolation.
When looking only at the hard-copy versions, each of the three journals was consistently profitable once you allocated the additional $10 or $20 voluntarily paid by the large majority of members who wished to receive hard-copy issues of more than one journal. The financial equation is even better once 25% or more of members also paid $20 for a year's access to electronic versions of all 3 journals. As I've noted, except for a one-time $400 set-up fee for each journal, there is NO additional cost to the AAA of producing the electronic versions -- we use the same Postcript/pdf files that go to the hard-copy printer for the electronic versions and no longer do any additional processing for the electronic versions as we did when we handled the first 8 electronic journals totally in-house. (This is why you can't "hot-key" to and from the footnotes any more -- that capability was beyond the capacity of the electronic publisher, but it also saved us $3 per page in internal processing costs that we incurred when we offered that capability in our earlier internally hosted electronic versions.) The AAA retains $15 of the $20 paid by members for electronic access to the three association-wide journals, and also gets 75% of any money from pay-per-article or nonmember or library subscribers who select the electronic versions.
Even without allocating any of the extra member revenue for hard-copies -- pretending that the $10 or $20 were voluntary donations by members without recognizing that they were actually purchasing more hard-copy journals -- the three journals as a set were always profitable, though this appeared to be only because of TAR. Largely because of its much higher set of library subscribers, TAR appeared to be subsidizing the other two journals -- but only when you ignored the voluntary purchases of a second or third printed journal by a large majority of members.
Allotments for editorial support were always MUCH higher for The Accounting Review than for Horizons and Issues; although the AAA made some progress toward equalizing these at least at the budget stage, certain recent AAA presidents were quite explicit that we should do anything possible to pump more resources to The Accounting Review (TAR) --- at the same time they almost ejected an editor of one of the other journals who stayed under the allocated budget but spent some of the funds in unanticipated budget categories.
And lastly on the cost/revenue side of things (and related somewhat to what Kate says below), has the Executive Committee really thought about what will be the impact of the lost subscriptions to the Horizons and Issues journals? It has taken years to build up those subscription revenues, especially in libraries. If the AAA Executive Committee really decides to replace these journals with a new journal, it may be very hard to build up the lost revenue with new subscriptions, especially in this disaster era for college and library budgets.
Let's now focus on the Nominations Committee that in reality controls the direction of the main body of the American Accounting Association. It consists of the 3 most recent past presidents willing to serve and 4 members selected by the non-Executive-Committee members of Council at the meeting that occurred just over a week ago. I don't know who they selected, but this was clearly the opportunity the Sections and Regions have to select the future leadership of the AAA. There was one President who changed the selection process in the middle of the voting because that President didn't like the way it was going, and the next President argued publicly with his Secretary/Treasurer in the middle of the voting process on what the selection process would be.
The bottom line is that, if Section and Region representatives don't elect 4 commonly minded Nominations Committee members, there is a large likelihood that the past Presidents will control the meeting. And there are reports that most of them do exercise that control.
It only takes 100 signatures to force a contested election by petition, and the one time that was tried the Nominations Committee designate only won by 7 votes. Since it is an electronic/fax/mail-in ballot, those who do not attend the Annual Meeting are no longer disenfranchised.
Please don't give up on the AAA. Always remember many good things come to us from the AAA. The AAA formally recognizes sections, publishes section journals, and dedicates annual meeting time slots to sections. There are geographic regions and regional meetings as well. What you get out depends upon what you put into all of these constituencies.
The AAA can be as much or as little as we want it to be if we stay involved and informed. If there are things you do not like about governance rules and procedures, there are processes for changing these rules and procedures. I think that we should have some voting choices like exist in other academic associations such as the Financial Management Association (FMA). Think about possibly working toward this goal.
If and when you raise a concern, please be courteous and factual. Our AAA leaders are dedicated volunteers. I know some of you are not happy with the way the present Executive Committee reached a decision (which may be rescinded by the incoming Executive Committee) to drop the Horizons and Issues journals. You should voice your unhappiness with the right degree of facts and the right degree of courtesy and respect. Please take care as to when and how you try to voice your concerns if you want to be heard. But eventually do make yourself heard!
On the AECM we can drift and go off-the-wall. The AAA Executive Committee probably does not understand this since virtually none of them contribute to our discussions.
I guess I am rambling too much, so I'll quit for now. I remain a loyal member of the AAA and am proud of the way it has become respected around the world as a community of accounting scholars. No organization is perfect, but in balance this is a great organization.
Hang in there Mary E.
AAA Executive Committee Members:
I wish to ask the Executive Council to reconsider the proposal to eliminate Issues in Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons and to start a new journal. According to a report by Tracey Sutherland, 4,167 or 54.8% of AAA members subscribe to all three journals, 947 to The Accounting Review only, 348 to Accounting Horizons only, and 943 to Issues in Accounting Education only. These figures indicate that a large portion of AAA members value all three journals. Of those individuals who choose to subscribe to only one journal, there is not a meaningful difference in the number choosing The Review and the number choosing Issues. With a 10 to 17 percent manuscript acceptance rate at Issues, a steady supply of submissions, and an extensive subscriber list, Issues appears to be well supported.
The AAA is quite concerned about declining membership. At such times, it is important to ensure that the organization is perceived as inclusive. In addition to AAA members employed at research oriented schools, many of our members are employed at teaching oriented schools. Another segment of AAA members are in the practice community. If we wish to maintain and grow the AAA membership in all these segments, we should continue to have three journals that appeal to our broad constituencies. In addition, moving from publishing three journals to two journals is likely to create the perception that there are fewer opportunities to publish in AAA journals. I worry that increasing the AAA dues and simultaneously decreasing the number of AAA journals will exacerbate the decline in AAA membership. Further, untenured individuals who have published in Horizons or Issues may find that those publications are valued less in the tenure process because the respective journals are no longer in existence. Before eliminating two journals and creating a new journal, at a minimum there should be a vote of the membership to determine their preferences.
Thank you for considering my request.
AAA Executive Committee Members:
I request you reverse your decision to cancel Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education. In my opinion, the executive committee's handling of this issue was inappropriate. I think the decision was based on the views of a small sample, but the problem is that the sample wasn't random! If the overriding issue is quality, I think that at the very least you should provide solid evidence to support your contention. If the overriding issue is cost, I have a few suggestions:
Cost of publishing journals/newsletters Put all the journals out for bid. I just learned that AAA thinks that publishing JATA costs $80,000. That number seems high to me, and I would like to request the costs of publishing all the journals be made public to the AAA membership, including how the costs are allocated among the journals. Regarding newsletters, ATA is fully capable of publishing its own newsletters on its server. AAA's concern about quality should not apply to a newsletter.
Reimbursement policies What are reimbursement policies for AAA officers, board members, committee members etc? For example, the ATA does not permit any travel expense reimbursement (hotel, food, transportation) to be paid for members with ATA funds. In addition, all hotel comp rooms are used for speakers. No benefit inures to ATA members. I( was amazed that the Hilton, where the ATA Midyear Meeting was held this year, actually thought that it was common policy for an organization's officers to have a suite of rooms.) Our reimbursement policy saves ATA a lot of money.
Food costs at annual meeting Cancel one of the luncheons and cancel one of the receptions. I bet most members don't attend both luncheons. Food costs for a meeting are enormous, and surely there are some cost savings to be had. If you tell members why you are doing it, most members will be sympathetic. If there ever was a year to scale back, this is the year.
Photographer costs Cancel the photographer. Surely there is a member who can take electronic pictures. Very few pics show up in the AAA newsletter anyway, so why do we incur the cost?
AV costs I was surprised at the high AV costs that will be incurred by those of us presenting CPE sessions. These are the regular AV costs. Why isn't AAA negotiating a deal? At the ATA Midyear Meeting, we were able to save money by including all AV costs in one package.
Once the membership has a chance to see the detailed costs incurred to run our large organization, I'm sure that more cost-cutting moves can be suggested. For example, I think the membership would prefer to have annual meeting costs reduced rather than eliminating journals. If you have any doubt, please poll the membership. Give us a say in our organization.
Horizons Wins Golden Page Award for “Readability of Research”
Professor Jim Largay, Editor of Accounting Horizons, is pleased to announce that Horizons is receiving the Emerald Management Reviews’ (EMR) 2003 Golden Page Award for “Readability of Research” in the Accounting and Finance journal category. Based in the UK, Emerald publishes 150 journals. In addition, each year it evaluates articles in the top 400 management periodicals in the world in six research and readability areas. Specialist reviewers examine over 18,000 articles each year and EMR recognizes the highest-ranked journal in each functional management category, such as accounting and finance, general management, marketing, and operations and production management, with Golden Page Awards in one or more of the six research and readability areas. Other journals honored with 2003 Golden Page Awards include Financial Management, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Strategic Marketing, and Management Science.
Professor Largay is attending the April 24 Awards Ceremony in London to receive the Award on behalf of Accounting Horizons and the American Accounting Association. He is gratified by this award and wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Horizons' Associate Editors, external referees, authors of published manuscripts, and of course his own green pen, that make Horizons the accessible widely-read research journal that came to the attention of the Golden Page award Evaluators.
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 3:05 PM
To: 'Tracey Sutherland'
Subject: Please forward this Open Letter to the members of the American Accounting Association regarding Need for a Vote on Journals of the Association.
March 31, 2003
Re: An Open Letter to the Members of the American Accounting Association regarding Need for a Vote on Journals of the Association
From: Wanda A. Wallace
Last week I became aware of the following accounts of recent events in our Association:
After receiving the above news and contemplating what action might be appropriate, I decided to write this open letter to fellow members of the American Accounting Association and to request the Executive Director of the AAA to forward it to all members of the AAA to ensure (a) that they are made aware of the situation in a timely manner and (b) they consider the propriety of demanding a membership vote be taken on such an important initiative.
In my view, an academic association of professors in a learned discipline has a number of responsibilities. One of these missions is to establish and responsibly operate independent forums for peer review and publication of contributions to the literature. Over twenty years ago, the leaders and members of the Association recognized the three-legged stool commitment to research, education, and service. Moreover, a value was placed on (a) pure academic research dialogue within the profession, (b) a forum for education-related research and associated educational resources, as well as debates associated with education, and (c) a means of sharing the results of research that addresses both practice and policy questions in a rigorous venue that takes a form that can be read by a much broader community than the academy.
My understanding is that two well-established journals have been summarily abolished by the Executive Committee and a unilateral decision made to create a different single journal with a mission of blending research, education, and practice in one forum. My personal reaction is threefold. First, The Accounting Review for years tried to serve all three audiences, and it was the inability to do so effectively and sufficiently that led, in part, to the creation of the additional two journals. Second, the pages of Association-wide journals are already severely limited relative to our world-wide membership and a decrease in that available forum, given very severe acceptance rates in all of our outlets, would not be in keeping with the Association's responsibility of maintaining independent journal space. Third, I know of no barrier to developing departments within all three existing journals that explore the interface of research, teaching, and service--integrating policy and practice considerations. Indeed, much could be gained from permitting cooperation among the three editors on the unique manuscripts that are apparently in the "mind's eye" of Executive members. A call for papers, a statement of those papers' placement--perhaps across the three journals--and even a creative role for a synergistic editor who worked with the three journal editors, could build on a strong foundation. The Executive Committee need not raze that which has been created and nurtured by the broad membership in order to pursue their stated interests.
I have never believed that critical planks of a not-for-profit membership-based association should ever be decided solely by a small group of Executive members, or even a broader Council. Membership votes are essential to ensure that the paths navigated are in accordance with those to whom the Association is committed. All of us should reflect on the events over the past few years of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Consider the representations made by the leaders of the Association regarding the 'XYZ' Certification and the very clear and decisive position of the members--at total odds with the leadership's assertions. I suggest that a formal vote on the question as to whether the existing journals should be abolished and whether a new journal should be established is both prudent and essential.
|I applaud the
discussion taking place on AECM about the decision of the AAA Executive
Committee to replace ISSUES and HORIZONS with a new journal. I was in
attendance at the Council meeting and I witnessed the Executive
Committee in action once again. One thing that is always striking about
Council is how uneducated it is about the history of AAA. Region chairs
don't have an inkling of why there are regions in the first place;
section chairs know nothing of how we did not drift into
"silos" but were forced into them because the AAA provides no
forum in which member interests could be expressed. I applaud Jim
Hasselback's and Denny Beresford's expressions of dissent and their
activism about trying to head this off. I, however, agree with the
decision to eliminate ISSUES and HORIZONS, but I do not support the
creation of a new journal.
My position, which I expressed at the meeting, was that we should go back to the old days and publish everything in The Accounting Review. With electronic publishing capabilities and even with modern print technologies, there is no reason why TAR cannot be published 6 or 8 times per year like AOS, CPA, or AAAJ. TAR could have sections for education, commentary, etc. We could publish everything under our flagship journal (like we used to) and save considerable money as a result. Here is where our forgetting of history inhibits our ability to see beyond this being merely an issue of eliminating the two journals. Why do we have these two in the first place? We have them because JAR and JAE were perceived by the "intellectual elite" as threatening the status of TAR. The AAA serves largely as the instrument by which accounting academics earn scholarly reputations -- the principal currency of academe (some of you out there are likely familiar with the work of Pierre Bourdeau, for example). Every academic discipline is organized; they are societies of scholars with complex mechanisms for deciding who among them are the most "successful." Those societies that are the most "open" (bow to Carl Popper) are the most "progressive." For example, the achievements of biology over the last 50 years (since Watson and Crick) are, to say the least, astonishing. In the sociology of science literature we note that the key to academic success in biology is driven largely by the ability to establish a successful lab, regardless of where you "went to school." Of course, among all of the hard sciences, one's politics are irrelevant to academic success.
The AAA is our structure; it is decidedly not an "open society", but a very, very closed society. The "empirical evidence" (which we are led to believe is the only thing that we are to base our beliefs upon) is compelling on this issue and I will provide a reading list for anyone who is genuinely interested in understanding something about why these events are taking place. The structure of the AAA makes it the last remaining Politburo on earth. TAR, our journal, has been taken away from from the members by a group of folks who unilaterally declared themselves to be our intellectual superiors and proclaimed that an uncritical parroting of our superiors in academe (new classical economists and monetarist financiers) is the key to academic success (a tried and true formula of the one eyed man is king in the land of the blind). Robert Heilbroner remarked that mathematics brought great rigor to economics, unfortunately, he noted, it also brought mortis (thus we have to reinvigorate accounting scholarship; well, who anesthetized it in the first place?).
The AAA exists so that we can pay our $135 dues (yes, they will go up by $50) to subsidize a system for creating politically correct academic reputations access to which is precluded for most of the people paying the tax. The AAA's financial troubles are to no small extent attributable to this system of subsidization. At the Council meeting, we were also informed about the results of a "cost study" to determine what the cost of services are that the AAA headquarters provides to sections and regions. My advice to you is to keep your eyes open on this effort, too. There is money in section and region coffers (the only part of the AAA prospering). There was a great deal of effort put into this analysis, but the analysis is faulty because it presumed that over half a million dollars of AAA expenditures were "Association costs," from which we allegedly all benefit (TAR is included in this amount). The cost structure of the AAA has to be understood in light of what goal(s) created it. Nothing can be taken for granted!!
If the AAA is a closed system for creating politically correct academic reputations, then, before we can conclude what the sections and regions "cost," we need to reassess whether the goals of the AAA are really what we want to pay to achieve. The response to the proposed elimination of ISSUES and HORIZONS suggests that they are not. The reason we used to make college students study the classics was in the belief that there was "ancient wisdom." The tragedies that befell protagonists in Greek tragedies were invariably the result of hubris. The continuing "financial tragedy" of the AAA is simply an old lesson relearned.
Paul Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
March 31, 2003 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]
April 11, 2003 Reply from Dan Stone
April 11, 2003 Reply from Paul Williams
April 11, 2003 Added Reply from Paul Williams
|This email is being
sent to all tenure-track Accounting faculty listed in the 2003
Accounting Faculty Directory.
The Executive Committee of the American Accounting Association has voted to eliminate two of the Association’s journals: Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education. The intention of the Executive Committee is to create a new journal. This new journal will not be a merger of Horizons and Issues but will start with a clean slate. It is expected that many items in the new journal will be similar to those in Horizons and Issues.
I have just returned from the American Accounting Association Southeast Regional Meeting. The journal decision was the topic of discussion during several sessions. At the Accounting Journal Editors Panel, Tom Howard, present editor of Issues, reported no one from the Executive Board has discussed this journal decision with him. He learned of the decision only six days prior to the SEAAA meeting. Marshall Geiger, the associate editor of Horizons, found out about the decision upon arriving at the SEAAA meeting and only two hours prior to his panel presentation.
At the AAA Southeast Regional Business Meeting, the journal decision was discussed by the members. Bill Felix, AAA President Elect, answered questions during the journal discussion. Subsequently, the members attending that meeting voted unanimously for the following resolution: The members of the Southeastern Region of the American Accounting Association are disappointed with the Executive Committee’s journal decision and would like the Executive Committee to reconsider their journal decision after receiving input from AAA members..
I have been appointed as Chairperson of a committee to follow up on the journal decision. Since there are several AAA regional meeting coming up, I felt that it is necessary to quickly disseminate information to the members to allow for open and informed discussion. I have attached two PDF files to this email message. The first file is entitled “Recommendations on the Association-Wide Journals,” dated March 3, 2003. The second file is Association President G. Peter Wilson’s summary of the Association-wide journals recommendation, dated March 23, 2003.
In the Recommendations (first PDF file), it is stated that educational research submission to Issues have dropped dramatically in recent years. Tom Howard reported submissions to Issues has remained steady at approximately 100 submissions per year for each of the past five years. He reported an acceptance rate of 17%.
Prior studies have shown Horizons and Issues are highly regarded journals. Both journals rank among the top 25 Accounting journals. Unfortunately, a ranking study of journals has not been completed in 10 years. A composite ranking of five previous journal surveys is presented as part of a publication study that is forthcoming in Advances in Accounting. A copy of this paper is available on my web site: www.jrhasselback.com. Click on “Articles” in the left column and then click on “Prolific Authors.”
In the President’s Summary (second PDF file) discusses Council’s involvement in the journal decision. The Council did not take a vote on the journal proposal. Several members of Council appear not to be in favor of the journal proposal. The Executive Committee then met and voted for the journal proposal. Two Council members have reported to me that they thought that Council input was ignored.
I hope to share any further information I receive with the AAA membership.
March 30, 2003 Reply from Dennis Beresford (former Chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board)
I was informed about this decision a few days ago by Jim Largay, the current editor of Accounting Horizons. I found it interesting that the Executive Committee did not inform Jim that this matter was even under consideration until after the decision had been made. In fact, even after that Jim received the word indirectly.
I've been a member of the editorial board of Accounting Horizons since its inception. And I've been proud to serve as an Associate Editor during the past three years under Jim Largay's leadership. Throughout its history, I think that Horizons has done a very good job of helping to bridge the gap between educators and practitioners, as was one of its original and main purposes. I've also been proud to have had several articles published in Horizons over the years (I hope that that isn't what led the AAA leadership to the conclusion that quality wasn't as high as they wished!).
Bob Jensen forwarded in the message above just the portion of President Wilson's notes that related to the journal matter. I found it interesting that in another part of those notes that wasn't forwarded by Bob, President Wilson pointed out the great idea of having practitioners make regular presentations to regional meetings of AAA and other similar meetings. It seems somewhat ironic to me that this enthusiasm to have practitioners contribute to those sessions comes at the same time as the principal journal that attempts to bridge the educator/practitioner gap is being abolished.
In addition to contributing to Horizons and reading it regularly (as a practitioner, a standard setter, and now an educator), I've found the archives of articles to be very useful reading for my students. For example, articles by Professor Zeff on the economic consequences of accounting standards and by Professor Samuelson on the determination of liabilities are better than anything else written on these topics, in my view. They are just as valuable to my students in this semester's classes as they were when I first read them many years ago. The Accounting Review certainly contributes greatly in its way, but it really isn't useful to the vast majority of students. Horizons seems to be the only forum in which professional/technical issues can be analyzed and debated by excellent accounting thinkers.
I also enjoy reading Issues in Accounting Education, as it is a way for me, as a relatively new educator, to learn about interesting new ways to reach my students. The book reviews are particularly valuable to me as well.
As a final note, I share the concern that some other AECMers have already expressed about the process by which this decision was reached. President Wilson says that the Executive Committee concluded that any further input would be predictably unreliable. And the Committee also doubts that they would learn much. Putting aside the pure arrogance of those comments, I've always thought that the AAA went overboard to encourage input and debate before making important changes like these. In fact, the Association has been criticized for moving too slowly on some matters because of this.
The FASB might have concluded on several occasions that it was sufficient, for example, to discuss a topic with its Advisory Council and not expose it for comment by all constituents. That would have been a violation of the FASB's rules of procedure. More importantly, it would have been a terrible judgment that the people who are affected by such an important decision are not entitled to participate in its outcome.
I have prepared a comment on the recent decision to eliminate Issues and Horizons. Dan Stone tells me that you have created a place for those of us with an opinion on the matter to chime in. I am attaching my comment for inclusion if you think it appropriate.
Thomas P. Howard
A Comment on Recent Actions of the Executive Committee of
The Executive Committee of the American Accounting Association (AAA) recently voted to discontinue publication of two Association-wide journals, Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education, and to replace them with a single journal that would publish applied and educational scholarship and educational materials. Two documents relating to that decision have recently gained wide distribution. Those documents are the “Recommendations on the Association-Wide Journals” by a AAA Task Force (TF) and the “Follow-up to the St. Louis Meeting” by Pete Wilson.
After a careful reading of both documents and following numerous telephone conversations and email exchanges with members of the TF and attendees at the Spring Council Meeting, I conclude that the Executive Committee made a very bad decision, based on a TF report containing errors and highly debatable “observations” and that both the decision and the TF report resulted from an ill conceived and indefensible process. Furthermore, I’m concerned that the leadership of the AAA is no longer connected to the overwhelming majority of the membership of the AAA.
The Task Force
At the annual meeting of the AAA held last August, word leaked out that the Executive Committee was considering eliminating Issues in Accounting Education. The original responsibility for making that happen fell to the Publications Committee. That committee met twice to discuss the matter. A potential problem of a political nature came up, however, since no one on the Publications Committee had ever published in Issues or shown the slightest interest in the journal. To overcome this, a Task Force was formed that included members of the Publications Committee, but also included a few individuals with a history of involvement with the journal. Had the newly constituted TF been allowed to proceed, and had the charge been to review all association-wide journals, perhaps something positive would have resulted. Unfortunately, the TF never met (its “deliberations” were limited to a one-hour conference call) and the charge was not to review the journals, it was to eliminate one or more of them. One of the TF members who was added to represent those of us with an interest in Issues told me that his total involvement consisted of the single conference call, that he never saw the report until well after the Executive Committee had voted, and that had he seen a draft of the document, he would have disagreed with several of its “observations”.
The Task Force Report
Since the TF recommendations were the basis for the actions of the Executive Committee, and the sole basis for the discussion held at the Council meeting of March 15, it is important that they be examined. To the extent that the TF recommendations were based on erroneous information, it calls into question the decision reached based on those recommendations. It is worth noting that no one on the Publications Committee or the Task Force ever contacted the editors, former editors, members of the editorial boards, or anyone else associated with either Accounting Horizons or Issues in Accounting Education to verify the “observations” on which they based their recommendations.
The following observations seem reasonable to me. TF “observations” are shown in quotes, my comments follow and are not in quotes:
There are, however, five “observations” that I think need discussion:
As objectionable as I find the TF report and resulting Executive Committee decision, the aspect of this situation that I find the most appalling is the process that was employed. The TF conference call was on March 3rd and the vote of the Executive Committee was on March 16th! Thirteen days start to finish. The question raised by at least one member of the TF and by at least three members of the Council, and, frankly, dictated by common sense is “Why not survey members before making a decision on a matter of so much concern to the membership?” Professor Wilson explains:
An alternate proposal
Goals: Same as TF except for the last sentence fragment of goal number 5 (…as well as the periodic deficit in submissions).
Whereas the overwhelming majority of members consider the three Association-wide journals to be the primary benefit of membership in the American Accounting Association, and
Whereas all three journals have a well established reputation for quality in their respective areas, i.e., basic, applied, and instructional scholarship, therefore
Let it be resolved that the Association take whatever steps are necessary to allow the journals to prosper and flourish.
The financial condition of the journals is unclear at this time. Reported deficits may well be the result of improper cost and revenue allocation and that possibility is now under investigation. If, in the future, it is determined that the journals are in financial difficulty, the Executive Committee should take immediate action to resolve that difficulty so that the journals can continue. Possible remedies include, but are not limited to:
Other possibilities exist and can be found if the agenda is to save the journals, not eliminate them.
|Some thoughts from
a former editor regarding the recent decision of the AAA Executive
Committee and its plan for two association-wide journals, Issues in
Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons. This plan calls for the
discontinuance of these journals as we know them and the creation of a
new journal that would essentially combine educational and practitioner
publications. At least this is my understanding of the plan.
I had a feeling, based on rumors at last year's annual meeting, that something like this was going to happen. This decision is particularly insulting to me (as immediate past editor) and the current editor of Issues (Tom Howard)--neither of us was consulted in any way prior to the decision. It would be interesting to know whether Jim Largay, current editor of Accounting Horizons, was consulted. What does this tell AAA members about the decision-making process of its Executive Committee?
Those who know me know that I have devoted most of my academic energies to the conduct and promotion of accounting education research. When I assumed the editorship of Issues, my primary pledge to the Publications Committee was to increase the quality of the journal--to raise the bar so to speak. During my three years as editor of Issues I believe we substantially elevated the status of the journal to the point that, without a doubt, it is considered the premier business education journal in the world. The observed reduction in acceptance rates and number of articles published per issue over the past five years correlates directly with an increase in quality. As one example of the increased expectation regarding the journal, consider instructional resources. During my term as editor we determined that in order to publish a case, the author(s) must do two things beyond case construction: (1) provide implementation guidance to users, based on actual classroom use of the case, and (2) provide evidence that the case was successful in terms of accomplishing a set of planned-for educational objectives. Our goal was to provide cases that were classroom-tested and that were educationally meaningful. These more stringent expectations certainly had an impact on the number of cases we received and the number of cases we published. You can't have it both ways: increased quality comes at the "cost" of publishing fewer articles. This was the trade-off I promised to the Publications Committee when I assumed the editorship of Issues.
It should be mentioned as well that when I constituted my editorial team I specifically invited individuals who had either published in accounting education or who had published in AAA section journals, if not TAR itself. (One associate editor on my team, for example, was the recipient of the AAA Competitive Manuscript Award.) The point here is that, by design, I wanted readers and authors to know that their papers were going to be judged by the same individuals who were publishing in the functional areas of accounting, including the section journals of the AAA. I believe this strategy was important to enhancing the quality reputation for the journal. In short, reviewers of papers submitted to Issues would be judged by the same standards and degree of rigor associated with other academic journals published by the AAA.
We teach in our courses the notion of the strategic importance of the "value proposition" for our targeted customer group. I would suspect that, along with Horizons, Issues is the most widely read of all AAA publications. It is indeed peculiar that in the current environment (budgetary concerns, etc.) the Executive Committee chooses an action that may alienate a substantial portion of the membership. How many of these individuals will no longer see "value" in being a AAA member? Is this even a concern of the Executive Committee?
Particularly offensive in the memo from the AAA president is the comment that polling the membership on this issue would not generate reliable data. (I am not sure whether this is a commentary on the aptitude of those who would conduct the survey or on the importance of such information from a decision-making standpoint.) Offensive as well was the comment regarding the inability to get good editors for Issues. Had the Executive Committee asked me, I could have provided them with many written comments regarding the service I (and members of my team) provided to authors during the term of my editorship. These letters speak to both the quantity and quality of feedback and support we gave to authors during the review process. These authors seemed genuinely appreciative of the "service" they received.
As to the issue of creating a new journal, combining practitioner-related and educational-related articles, there are some problems. One, what does this do for individuals (and there are many of us out there) who have publications in Issues and/or Horizons on our resumes? Two, I suspect that individuals would be dissuaded from submitting quality pieces to the new journal. One never knows, but it is entirely possible that the new journal would be viewed as of low quality. Three, the FMA experimented with a similar project. For several years the FMA published something called "Financial Practice and Education." This journal is defunct.
There are other aspects that readers of the president's memo, and the accompanying committee report, that can be challenged. I will these for others to address. However, from my reading of these materials, I can only conclude that the AAA made this decision on the basis of questionable information and unsubstantiated assertions. At a minimum it raises legitimate questions regarding the decision-making process of the organization. I am not sure what the appropriate course of action should be in response to this decision. I have always been a loyal supporter of the AAA. However, I fear that in response to the current decision a sizeable number of members will simply leave the organization. ------
David E. Stout
|Dear Bill and Pete:
I received Pete's notes on why the Executive Committee of AAA decided to drop two of the AAA journals--a surprise to me. I did not know that such a proposal was being considered or discussed. I could not get a good sense from the note about the Executive Committee's motivation to do this at this time.
I found the reasons given in the note unconvincing. I hope the Executive Committee will suspend the decision and solicit the membership feedback before moving further. Holding a town meeting at AAA meetings to present a fait accompli to the membership may only make things worse.
A. Quality: What prevents AAA from raising the "quality" of its existing journals? B. Cost: What prevents AAA from REPLACING its print journals by their electronic versions? The last time I looked at the AAA budget (13 years ago), a large part of it was spent on activities quite peripheral to the mission of an academic association. Publication of the journals is the most important of its activities. Everything else is dispensable--e.g., the cost of travel to the meetings of its Executive and other committees in any form other than conference calls. C. Proposal for a new Journal: I could not find anything substantive about specifications of this journal, except it would be of high quality (see A above). Is the AAA selling its members a pig-in-a-poke, to replace two known quantities. The members of AAA would need something more substantive than a wish for "higher quality" to be sold on the idea. Quality of our journals simply reflects what we, the members of AAA, are. No author, editor or referee of the two condemned journals aims for low quality; they do the best they can. Where do you propose to find the angels to do the "higher quality" work? Why could the Executive and the Publications Committee not find these angels in the past? D. An Alternative: If the Executive Committee knows how to create a better new journal, add it as an additional journal in electronic form for now and evaluate its success in five years. In 2008, the Association can decide if some of its four journals (three in print, one electronic) need to be dropped.
With best wishes,
|Bob et al,
I was present at the AAA Council Meeting at which the Exec Comm brought up this recommendation. As I recall, quite a number of folks voiced dissent in both their characterizations of these two journals and in their solution to the alleged problem. My conclusion at the end of the meeting was that this was not a "done deal." Of course, I could be naively mistaken.
My belief is that IF the AAA is trying to serve its members, THEN having LESS journals is not a move in the right direction in general.
The characterization of these two journals was that AH is "applied research" oriented (not sure I agree, but it certainly used to be) and that Issues is "curriculum development" oriented and those two things are so similar that they should be together. I completely disagree and apparently the AACSB does since those are separate categories for them as well.
The committee also reported that these journals are losing money and that was at least partial motivation if not the main motivation for the recommendation. While I have been for a long time and probably will remain a member of the AAA, I see a disconnect here. The AAA itself has been losing money and disbanding it has not and certainly shouldn't be a way to solve that problem, so perhaps it is also not a resaonable solution to the "losing money" problem that these journals have according to the report.
While AR clearly serves the association by bringing in $ through library subscriptions and AH and IAE apparently do not (at least not significantly) according to the Exec Comm, hardly is that a reason to discontinue AH and IAE. Does the AAA only exist to make money? Let's hope not... These journals (including AR) exist for other important reasons that are not directly tied to their bottom line $.
I don't recall being given stats on AH, but on Issues, I believe they told us that the acceptance rate was 10% and the journal was not getting enough quality submissions. If this is true, it would have been better to hear it from the editor. Unfortunately, neither of the editors seemed to be present at the meeting. Jim H's previous email reported that these may not be accurate numbers for IAE.
Personally, I object to the discontinuance of AH and IAE for quite a number of reasons, including,
- For those folks who have already published in the journals, their publications will automatically lose value if the journals cease to exist. Publishing in a dead journal doesn't count for much on some fronts.
One alternative according to Paul Williams is that " we should go back to the old days and publish everything in The Accounting Review." While I think this would be fantastic, I think it is highly unlikely, unfortunately.
I do agree with Paul that rather than leaving the AAA, everyone should work for positive CHANGE, through the by-laws and whatever other means are possible. If folks with divergent views leave the AAA, then the AAA membership will become even more narrowly focused. To paraphrase a famous quote, "all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" --- ok so this isn't about evil, but the general point still applies.
|Peter Wilson, President, American Accounting
and members of the American Accounting Association Executive Committee
Dear Pete and AAA Executive Committee Members:
I am writing this letter to express my dismay with the recent actions taken by the AAA Executive Committee regarding elimination of Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education and forming a new combined journal. The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues at the University of Oklahoma.
I believe that both Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education are highly reputable journals with quite different target audiences. Accounting Horizons is a policy and “bridge to practice” journal that provides a vehicle to explore and debate issues of critical importance to the accounting profession in a way that is not possible in purely practitioner journals. It is useful for faculty to share with their peers and the profession accounting and disclosure issues that are not addressed in any other outlet.
Given the enormity of the issues facing the accounting profession today Accounting Horizons is needed more than ever. There really is not another journal that focuses on bridging the gap between policy and practice in the way that Accounting Horizons does. I think that it is extremely important and is probably the most widely read of the AAA sponsored accounting journals. Furthermore, it supports basic research in accounting by highlighting important problems facing the profession. I have had numerous doctoral students refer to various papers in Accounting Horizons in helping to motivate research papers and dissertations.
While I have used both Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education in classroom settings, they serve quite different functions. I see Accounting Horizons as more appropriate to advanced and graduate level classes (including Ph.D. classes) where the idea is to bring policy issues into the classroom. Issues in Accounting Education, on the other hand, addresses broader teaching related issues and provides cases useful for variety of levels and purposes.
Another factor that did not appear to be given adequate consideration by the Executive Committee is the extent to which institutions would support and value publications in the new journal described. Asking deans and faculty evaluation committees (especially outside of accounting) to value any new journal highly is difficult at best. This problem would be compounded if the journal included both teaching and policy oriented papers. The Price College does not presently place high value on education related publications as creative activity and I think that combining education with the Accounting Horizons type papers could reduce the value placed on the policy oriented work. Consider what the response of your faculty would be to the news that the Academy of Management had begun a new journal called “Management Strategy and Education,” (hypothetical title) for example. My guess is that a journal related to strategy and education would be considered an education journal by most business college faculty members despite the efforts of management faculty to claim otherwise. Similarly, I don’t think that the American Accounting Association can simply start a journal and claim that it is top notch and have their non-accounting contemporaries and deans agree.
If Issues in Accounting Education has a problem attracting quality papers (and it appears from the correspondence sent by Jim Hasselback that it does), then perhaps the AAA should consider changing the focus or format of Issues in Accounting Education along the lines suggested for the new journal (combining on-line and hard copy format). Perhaps the number of volumes of Issues in Accounting Education published annually could be decreased if more of the content was on-line.
I also think it is important to realize that while the University of Oklahoma does not rate an Issues in Accounting Education paper as highly as basic or policy oriented research, other institutions might do so. Institutions differ in their missions and the evaluation of research is generally tied to a schools mission. Personally, I have found many papers in Issues in Accounting Education to be very useful and informative.
Finally even though many institutions require publications in "A" level basic journals for promotion and tenure and few would dispute that the Accounting Review is such a journal, accounting faculty continue to struggle with the issue of quantity of publication outlets relative to our colleagues in other areas of business and within the university. In fact, as the study by Zivney, Bertin and Gavin (Issues in Accounting Education Spring 1995, p. 6) reveals, only twenty-three percent of total accounting faculty publish in the top three accounting journals (The Accounting Review, the Journal of Accounting Research, and the Journal of Accounting and Economics). Of these twenty-three percent the average number of publications per faculty member is 2.7, which is less than required to attain tenure at most institutions.
A common approach to evaluating faculty for tenure is to consider their publication portfolio. Many schools expect or require a certain amount of candidates’ work to fall in the category of basic research (and often some falling into one of the three aforementioned journals), but these schools also may consider additional high quality publications in more varied outlets.
This is not to suggest that Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education can be justified only as a means to provide additional publication outlets. However most institutions would place some value on publications in both Issues in Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons. Reducing the number of potential outlets in which accounting faculty could publish makes it all the more difficult for accounting faculty to achieve promotion and tenure. Furthermore publications in Issues in Accounting Education often serve as a valuable part of a faculty member’s teaching portfolio.
It appears that some of the impetus behind the decision was the fact that teaching and practice sessions are held at mid-year section and region meetings. I do not think that it follows that what works at a meeting will necessarily work as a journal. I have been a regular attendee at the American Taxation Association (ATA) midyear meeting for many years and have attended research, practice and teaching sessions. It is true as Anne Christensen noted that these sessions attract a broad audience of teaching and research faculty from a wide variety of institutions.
The practice and teaching sessions at the ATA mid year meeting are generally separate sections. The practice sessions often bring in current high level practitioners to comment on current topics. For example, the most recent ATA midyear meeting had a number of speakers talk about corporate tax shelters from the viewpoint of IRS compliance and from the perspective of those that market shelters. The talk was extremely well attended and informative. One advantage of having the speakers in is that they often interact with each other and engage in interesting debates in a way that would not likely occur in print. In fact, because the speakers often come from high level positions in business and government, they sometimes are willing to make “off the record” comments with an audience that almost certainly would never be translated into print.
The teaching sessions tend to focus on either teaching tools (such as using the internet) or approaches to specific topics (for example international taxation). One area of great value in the teaching sessions is the opportunity to see master teachers display their craft. Faculty with both strong research and teaching foci tend to attend the sessions that relate to their teaching and research interests and to learn new material. For example, I have never taught international tax. However, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Ed Outslay go through the Quaker Oats/Snapple case and the intricate tax issues involved. I learned more about international tax and picked up teaching tips from an exceptional classroom instructor.
Does the foregoing discussion mean that a journal should mirror what happens at the meetings as your discussion suggests? I don't think so. I am not convinced that many of the sessions at the ATA midyear meeting, no matter how well done, would convert readily into print form. Further even those sessions that appear suited to publication do not necessarily belong in a combined journal. If this is so, why doesn’t the AAA form one journal to emulate the varied activities that occur at the AAA national meeting? If in fact appealing to a broad audience is a concern with the AAA, one could argue that all areas of research should be published in The Accounting Review.
Fundamentally I think that the reason that the ATA is so successful as a section is that is considers the broad needs of its membership and the membership is given the opportunity to be involved in all key decisions. For example, the decision to undertake a legal journal underwent lengthy debate and arose from a need that was expressed by a number of members in a survey conducted by an ATA strategic planning committee. The debate helped to sharpen the focus of the new journal and to assure that there was in fact sufficient interest to form the journal. However, despite interest in the new journal, there was little interest in merging it with The Journal of the American Taxation Association (JATA) precisely because of concerns regarding the difference in focus empirical and analytical basic tax research and legal research, the different audiences, and a feeling among the membership that combining the two would not enhance the perceived quality of either JATA or the ATA Journal of Legal Tax Research
While I don't know what would arise if the AAA undertook a broad survey of its membership regarding the strategy and direction of the AAA, I would suspect that the journals supported by the AAA would be viewed as among its most value-added activities. For the AAA Executive Committee to vote to eliminate two of the three association-wide journals in such an abrupt fashion appears to be very short-sighted. I understand that financial concerns may have been a key factor. I would think that in making a determination of what areas to cut services to members a strategic look at what is valued by members would be taken into account. Furthermore, it may be necessary to increase dues for the AAA and or the journals. I sincerely hope that the decision will be reconsidered and that a more thorough process involving broad views of the AAA membership will be followed before any major changes in journals are implemented. Thank you for your consideration.
April 1, 2003 message from Roger Collins [rcollins@CARIBOO.BC.CA]
April 1, 2003 reply from Amy Dunbar [amy.dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]
I have some modest proposals for the AAA that are partially in
response to the recent journal decision fiasco:
Now..... who is with me? How can we make these proposals happen?
April 16, 2003 reply from Paul Williams [williamsp@COMFS1.COM.NCSU.EDU]
24, 2003 message Thomas Calderon
Subject: FW: AAA 2003 Spring Council Follow-Up
wanted to share with the Region's executive Pete Wilson's notes on the Council
meeting I recently attended as a representative of
the Ohio Region. The most notable item in Pete's notes is the decision by AAA's
Executive to stop publishing Issues and Horizons. AAA will create a brand new
journal that emphasizes applied research and instructional development. The new
journal will not be a merger of Horizons and Issues--it's a clean slate!
reasons cited by the Executive are cost and the perceived low quality of Issues
and Horizons. I should point out that Council members did not share the same
degree of enthusiasm as the Executive for cutting the two journals and creating
a brand new, "higher quality" journal.
me, the Council meeting and Pete's notes are enlightening and interesting
lessons in AAA decision making.
will be out of town until next week.
April 1, 2003 message from Rob Ingram, University of Alabama [ringram@CBA.UA.EDU]
I haven't followed all the discussion on this issue, so forgive me for jumping in in the middle. However, whether one agrees or disagrees with the decision about the journals, the method used to handle the decision is intolerable. The Executive Committee has managed to insult the editors of Issues and Horizons, those who have published in or who might consider publishing in these journals, and the membership in general. Their arrogance is evident in the we-know-best approach to this decision that has ignored input from the Council and has refused to consider input from the membership.
Before engaging in some of the more drastic responses I have seen mentioned, I suggest each of you, and everyone else in the AAA for that matter, email the Executive Committe and express outrage at the way this issue has been handled. Demand that the membership have ample opportunity to discuss this matter and provide input. This is our organization; we have a right to be heard.
A list of EC members and their email addresses is available at http://raw.rutgers.edu/raw/aaa/about/ec2003.htm .
March 30, 2003 reply from Bill Dent [billdent@UTDALLAS.EDU]
To the Executive Committee of the American Accounting Association:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am taking the liberty to forward to you the letter below.
Professor Beresford is a well-known and highly respected member of the accounting profession by those of us who have had the privilege to know and work with him at sometime in the past 30 years.
His well-written and highly articulate letter expresses a point of view that may well be that of the majority of the members of the American Accounting Association if you would take the time to solicit such views.
Personally having been a member of the American Accounting Association for over 40 years, I can tell you that I find Horizons and Issues much more practical and beneficial than The Accounting Review. To arbitrarily discontinue the two publications without member input is a decision that is not justifiable and without merit. I urge you to seek full member input.
William C. Dent, CPA
March 30, 2003 reply from Jim McKinney [jim@MCKINNEYCPA.COM]
It seems the AAA is acting like the AICPA and that is not a positive comparison.
I vote No as well.
March 30, 2003 reply from MABDOLMOHAMM@BENTLEY.EDU
My vote would be no as well. I understand the production cost problem and would think that making the journals on-line may take care of that. These journals have served the membership well and replacing such well-established journals with a new journal does not make sense to me. I sense an elitist approach to the decision and don't like the statements about the risks of surveying the membership. I guess we have not learned from AICPA's costly Cognitor debacle.
Mohammad J. Abdolmohammadi, DBA, CPA
John E. Rhodes Professor of Accounting
Bentley College 175 Forest Street Waltham, MA 02452
March 30, 2003 reply from Chuck Pier [texcap@HOTMAIL.COM]
I'll vote no also. While I do appreciate the purpose behind TAR, I think a vote of the entire membership would find that is a by far less useful to the majority of members than Issues or Horizons. IMHO the vast majority of the members represent teching interests with a moderate research component as opposed to the heavy research component that is the target of TAR.
These are just my opinions, but I don't think I'm alone.
Charles A. Pier Assistant
Professor Department of Accounting
Walker College of Business
Appalachian State University Boone, NC 28608
March 30, 2003 reply from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]
We suspected that the survey results would be predictably unreliable.
Yes, the opinion of the rank and file doesn't matter.
Actually, I consider the decision of the executive committee to be predictably unreliable.
Bowling Green State University
March 30, 2003 reply from Mary E. Harston [mharston@ALVIN.STMARYTX.EDU]
I cannot believe that AAA would think of stopping publication of one of, if not, the top journal in accounting education. I am astounded! I have had a co-authored article published in the journal and do not consider my research or writing to be of low quality.
I am seriously considering withdrawing from the AAA.
March 30, 2003 reply from Gary Previts [Gary.Previts@weatherhead.cwru.edu]
I spoke with Dale Flesher who attended the SEAAA in Charleston SC where about 250 persons were on hand. He reported that Bill Felix, President Elect and Tracy Sutherland, the recently appointed Executive Director were there. At the Business Meeting of the Region there was an strong vote to direct the EXCOM to reconsider the matter. Dale reports that both Bill and Tracy indicated that it was not a done deal and/or professed no specific knowledge of the decision being final.
The Midwest meeting will be held in two weeks time, I will be there for Friday's activities, and also at the Ohio AAA in early May.
March 31, 2003 reply from Amy Dunbar [amy.dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]
I have very mixed feelings about the "elitist" issue raised by Paul Williams in the email below. Many people would not have tenure today if TAR did not exist. We cannot rely on JAR and JAE alone to provide our "top tier" journals. TAR is more accessible than either JAR or JAE, imo, for accounting publications. I think what is getting lost in the debate is that AAA should serve ALL of us and that includes those academics who are at schools that will only grant tenure to those who have at least one publication in the top tier journals. I have never published in any of the top three journals, and I do have tenure at long last. My tax policy research is accepted at other outlets like the National Tax Journal. and JATA For me, these journals are the top outlets available. There is no doubt, however, that the "elite" in AAA do not view these journals as they do TAR, JAE, or JAR. Sometimes that infuriates me; other times I say c'est la vie. But I do not want TAR to be our solo journal. I have many colleagues who must publish in TAR or be denied tenure. AAA must support these people also, despite the fact that they constitute a minority of the AAA membership.
What is unconscionable to me is that the decision was made to eliminate the other two journals without getting input from the membership. My heart sank when I read the email that said those two journals were being eliminated. Those journals serve a real need for our members. Just as AAA must serve the "elite," AAA must serve those of us who are interested in the publications that are in those journals. Imo, the jargon about raising quality just means that AAA would like its "elite" to publish in them; the "elite" will only publish in those journals in which the perceived quality is high. If the "elite" publish in those journals, other members will be pushed out. The review process is not blind. The "elite" are connected. They present their research at numerous schools; we all find out who is doing what, and thus there is an element of so and so did this research; thus, the research must be publishable.
On the other hand, as a reviewer, I am well aware that some papers do not get considered simply because they are written so horribly that reviewers couldn't figure out if the research idea is a good one or not. Many of our members would be well served to hire writing consultants. In addition, not all of our members can produce a good research design. Paul cites Potter, a favorite of mine. Paul, how many of our members have read Potter? (I am not implying that Potter is essential to creating a good research design, but one quickly becomes aware of the importance of good research design and the need for replication by reading Potter.) We can't expect to publish research without having had training necessary to produce replicable research. Not all of AAA's members want to produce replicable research, however. The "elitist" can roll their noses and talk about scholarship, but the fact remains that scholarship involves teaching as well as research. AAA must serve all of us, or the organization should stop accepting members who do not publish in the top tier journals.
I think the decision to eliminate the two journals is a mistake, but I think it is also a mistake to create an "us" against "them" attitude. (Ah, those are hard words for me to say as an ardent liberal, feminist, Democrat who loves to take on others! Age has a way of tempering my tongue.) We are not going to reach a mutually beneficial decision unless we all work together.
University of Connecticut
March 31, 2003 reply from Richard Newmark [richard.newmark@PHDUH.COM]
Below is my response to the email that Jim Hasselback sent (I assume to everybody). I would also like to respond to some of Amy's comments.
I believe in the value of basic research. In fact, a study by Mike Roberts (soon to be published in an empirically oriented journal) was the impetus for me developing Tax Code Quizzes to help students improve their tax research skills by increasing their knowledge of the structure and content of the Internal Revenue Code. I also believe that that members from large research institutions are a legitimate constituency that should not be ignored. However, They are not the ONLY constituency, or even a majority of the membership, and they should not be allowed to impose their will on the majority of the membership.
If the quality of Issues and Horizons is truly second rate (show me the evidence), then improve the quality of the journals instead of killing them (and doing serious harm to résumé's of many) so that a new journal can be created that is acceptable to a smaller number of individuals who, as Amy points out, will likely reduce the opportunity of the former group to publish in the new journal.
Can't the AAA learn from the behavior of the AICPA?
March 30, 2003 reply from Linda Kidwell [lak@NIAGARA.EDU]
I hope many of us are flooding the AAA with e-mails over this. We need to contact them directly as well as venting with each other. Afterall, didn't Bob reported in his acceptance speech for the educator of the year award that a shockingly low percentage of the better-known members of the accounting academy read AECM on a regular basis?
March 31, 2003 reply from Kate Mooney [kkmooney@STCLOUDSTATE.EDU]
My institution isn't looking to increase subscriptions. Rather, the library is asking which subscriptions we want to cut. I suspect that this situation is common and increasing individual subscriptions isn't a big revenue producer. If the answers to this problem were easy and quick, I suspect we wouldn't be having the discussion. The AAA, like many professional associations, is facing financial problems. Increasing costs and decreasing membership are common themes for University Alumni Associations, State CPA societies, Arts Boards, etc. Rather than attack the volunteer leadership, we need to influence their limited perspective with logic and reason regarding this important issue. I urge the AAA Executive Committee to do the same to the membership. The Midwest AAA meeting has invited Pete Wilson to address this during our business meeting in St. Louis next week. He was brave enough to agree. This forum will allow an exchange of information that should help both sides understand what is involved with this problem. K
Kate Mooney, PhD, CPA
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Accounting
G. R. Herberger College of Business
St. Cloud State University St. Cloud, MN 56301 320.255.3038
April 1, 2003 message from David R. Fordham [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]
Kate's comments are right on.
I am the liaison between our College of Business and our library. In trying to achieve our governor's mandated 15% cut in our operating budget, our library just decided to drop the subscription to IAE because all of the accounting faculty already have individual subscriptions. The rub for the AAA however, is that our single library subscription ($175 per year) brings in more money to them than our eight individual subscriptions combined.
Further, the full text of the IAE articles are available on the Infotrac database, making the library subscription superfluous for student purposes, except perhaps for convenience.
I also agree that such an important decision should probably have been brought before the membership, but I too will refrain from criticizing a volunteer leadership whom I believe is very sincere and conscientious in trying to fulfill their responsibility to act in the best interest of the organization.
As for me, this is just one more "change" in my world which I wistfully regret to witness. As I grow older, I find my attitude morphing into that of a tired old man. And I'm only half of Bob Jensen's age!
(April fool, Bob!)
David R. Fordham
PBGH Faculty Fellow
James Madison University
April 1, 2003 message from Gary Previts [Gary.Previts@weatherhead.cwru.edu]
I share the high opinion of the cases published in Issues. There is also the value of having it there to encourage case writing as a vehicle to reduce sheer textbook fatigue style teaching.
Once a person has written, or even drafted or submitted a case that is rejected, there is I believe an interest in the case method which can regenerate the passion of those in the classroom and add variety to the approaches employed in learning.
April 1, 2003 message from Mary E. Harston [mharston@ALVIN.STMARYTX.EDU]
I agree that we are not spamming. I have not seen any pop-ups (Ha!). Thanks to all who encouraged me to stay in the AAA. In my reaction e-mail to the announcement to discontinue the two journals, I stated that I was astounded and I remain astounded! I think I was particularly surprised by Pete Wilson's vote given that I have heard him speak several times on educational concerns and read his (as well as Demski's) articles in Issues. You are correct, Bob, that we need to get facts before taking action. Hopefully, all of the facts will be forthcoming.
My thought to leave the AAA was not based solely on this current event. I have questioned the AAA/regional organization model for some time. I believe that the AAA has definitely lost touch with its constituency again and in some cases I do not believe that the regional associations fully understand the needs of members from smaller universities, budget constraints regarding travel, but at the same time, the importance of quality in papers. Usually I am the type of person who believes in working within a system to improve it. I have some serious doubts, however, about making a difference in this organization because I wonder if we need a new model? I think that technology has opened the door to some great opportunities for a new type of entity and improved communication. Perhaps, we need to think out of the box? Does the current paradigm use the correct assumptions?
Just some explanations and many questions,
April 1, 2003 message from George Battistel [battiste@UP.EDU]
I am surprised that no one has made (possibly) the most obvious solution. Maybe it is impossible for a single association to meet all the needs of all its membership. Should we have different associations each with a journal that meets the needs of its constituents so we only have to pay for what we use?
University of Portland
April 1, 2003 message from Lowensohn,Suzanne [Suzanne.Lowensohn@business.colostate.edu]
Dear Dr. Jensen – I am a new junior faculty member at Colorado State University. Lynn Turner forwarded Wanda Wallace’s e-mail regarding the AAA section journals, and I am quite upset. Dr Wallace suggested I send my comments to you.
My offer letter read that I must publish in AAA section journals and above. I am in the process of working on papers aimed at Issues and Horizons, thus this decision could directly affect my career. I greatly fear that a new journal will not accommodate my current research. Please let me know if there anything that I can do to help in the quest for an organization-wide vote. Thank you for your time and efforts! Suzanne
Suzanne Lowensohn, PhD
Assistant Professor of Accounting
Colorado State University
College of Business
257 Rockwell Hall
Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1271
Messages Received After April 10, 2003
|At least it's not a done deal in deciding to drop the two
AAA journals. AAA members are now encouraged to contemplate both sides of
the case and make their feelings known. I would suggest writing letters
or email messages to both President Wilson (Boston College) and
President-Elect Bill Felix (University of Arizona). Their email
addresses are given at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm
The problem is that the message below from President Wilson really does not supply any hard data upon which the membership can realistically debate this proposal by President Wilson and the current Executive Committee. Hopefully he or President-Elect Bill Felix will confirm or deny my cost and revenue analysis given at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm#Jensen
President Wilson's message below seems to duck the issue of costs and provides a really convoluted argument that the two journals are not serving the AAA membership.
The two main reasons that President Wilson is advocating dropping Issues in Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons really aren't backed up with hard data:
The first reason is the claim by President Wilson that library revenue is low from these two journals. This was true from 1983 and 1987 beginnings of each journal and has very little to do with quality.
The Journal of Accounting and Economics is supposedly the premiere research journal that competes more directly with The Accounting Review. The fact that the number of library subscriptions to JAE) is relatively low relative to all three AAA journals does not make JAE lower in quality. The number of library subscriptions is due more to price and date at which the journals commenced. The Accounting Review is relatively cheap and commenced publication in 1926 (I think). Issues in Accounting Education commenced in 1983 and Accounting Horizons Commenced in 1987. Since it is much harder to convince libraries to add subscriptions than to remove subscriptions, the predominance of older journals in libraries comes as no surprise.
President Wilson's analysis of this issue of library versus membership subscriptions starts out great in his April 11 message, but then he makes a very convoluted conclusion quoted below:
I find this to be an absurd and convoluted conclusion, because by the same token, AAA members would pressure libraries to subscribe to other allegedly higher quality accounting research journals such as JAE, Journal of Accounting Research, Contemporary Issues in Accounting, The European Accounting Review, Abacus, etc. Show me the data that library subscriptions to Issues in Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons are way below any one of the leading top accounting research journals other than The Accounting Review that has been in college libraries since 1926.
I also find the above quotation also absurd given the wonderful decision of the AAA to allow instructors to freely distribute articles in all AAA journals to any student enrolled in an accounting course. If, as President Wilson even suggests, accounting instructors are getting more use out of Issues of Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons in teaching materials, then it is not necessary for the campus library to subscribe to those journals for the benefit of students. Professors can place photocopies of any article on reserve and/or distribute as many articles as desired to students via email (after downloading one electronic version of each article). The need for library subscriptions is, thereby, greatly reduced.
In reality, the revenue issue should hinge more upon subscription choices of members than their campus libraries. Those subscription differences in particular do not support the case that The Accounting Review is doing any better than Issues in Accounting Education. All of the journals are profitable. Anne Christensen wrote the following at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm#Christensen
The above hard data certainly run counter to the conclusion of President Wilson provides in the message below:
The second reason is President Wilson wants to drop both Issues and Horizons is the quality of refereeing, editing, and published content is low for the two targeted AAA journals relative to The Accounting Review. See his statements with respect to low quality at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm#Wilson
The current editors (Tom Howard and Jim Largay) and former editors (Wanda Wallace and David Stout) vehemently disagree, some taking personal offense. See their strong messages to President Wilson at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm
My position is that the importance of the research in all AAA journals, including The Accounting Review, cannot be all that important to leaders of the AAA since the current and former AAA Executive Committees have all discouraged replications of published research by not allowing AAA publication of replications. Faculty are, thereby, discouraged from conducting replication research that cannot be published. See "Are accounting researchers really seeking truth?" at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/book02q4.htm#Replication
The bottom line is that I am pleased that the decision is not a done deal and the membership still has some opportunity for input. I was initially disappointed that there will not be any survey, even a random sample survey, to indicate how the members really feel about this issue. Voluntary input is really haphazard and easily skewed by the survey questionnaire itself. In retrospect, if the survey questionnaire does not have hard data and balanced arguments on both sides of the issue, I guess I am really glad that the Executive Committee is not surveying the membership.
The real issue is whether the open debates on this issue serve as an opportunity for injecting more democracy into AAA governance. The power of three past presidents in the nominations process of a single slate of candidates every year creates too much opportunity for decades of a dynasty of one research philosophy. See "Several Messages from Paul William followed by replies from Jagdish Gangolly and Dan Stone" at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm#Williams
President Wilson makes some other arguments in favor of dropping the two journals. I hope you will read those arguments carefully and then compare them with many other sides presented at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm
I really do like academic debates in which all sides receive full and fair disclosure of opinions and facts. This debate does not go on record as having the Executive Committee's full and fair disclosure.
Reply from Jason Xiao
From: G. Peter Wilson [mailto:Wilsongp@bc.edu]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2003 11:23 AM
To: American Accounting Association Members Subject: Association-wide Journal Response
Dear AAA Members,
Many of you have contacted members of the Executive Committee, Publications Task Force, and AAA headquarters office in recent days with questions and concerns about the Executive Committee's plans for association-wide journals. The Executive Committee sincerely appreciates that the vast majority of the emails we have received have been constructive and reflect considerable concern for the membership. Some of the questions and concerns in these emails center on the substance of the four recommendations passed by the Executive Committee at our spring meeting and others with the process that we followed. With regards to both substance and process, we agree with many of the points raised in these emails. However, several of the questions and concerns are predicated on assumptions that are inconsistent with our intentions and with the way we view the facts and circumstances.
Clearly there is a need for additional communication about future plans for both Accounting Horizons and Issues in Accounting Education. Before sharing some background on the issues and directions taken, I want to note that while the Executive Committee has voted on recommendations to consider new plans for association-wide journals, there are still many opportunities available for discussion. We continue to believe that replacing Issues and Horizons with a new journal is the best way to proceed and we hope that most of you will concur once all of the arguments are on the table. Nevertheless, we plan to listen carefully to alternative arguments and to reconsider all options after consulting with Council at next year's spring meeting. To this end, we have scheduled a forum to discuss these issues during the 2003 Annual Meeting and Bill Felix (President Elect) and I will discuss them at upcoming Region meetings.
>From the conversations that the Executive Committee, members of the Task Force, and Tracey Sutherland have had with members over the last few days, it is clear that many members are apprehensive that plans to "replace Horizons and Issues" mean that the Executive Committee is abandoning the interests of members whose primary scholarly work as faculty centers on teaching and curriculum development, and/or those whose scholarship centers on applied research of relevant issues of practice in a broad range of areas. This could not be farther from the truth - in its description of important background issues to take into account the Publications Task Force noted: "The majority of AAA members have strong interests in applied research and instructional development." It went on to list as a goal for the process: "[To] better serve the needs of members with interest in producing and consuming applied scholarship and instructional development and demonstrate the Association's strong commitment to supporting those efforts", and "[To] increase the visibility and academic recognition for applied scholarship and instructional development".
But I am getting ahead of myself - I should begin with an overview of the process of our discussions so far. In describing the governance process as it relates to making new plans for association-wide journals, it is perhaps most important to note that conversations among Executive Committee members about possible new directions for association journals began last spring with a discussion of how the AAA could better address the needs of members for a venue for sharing instructional materials and successful curriculum initiatives.
These discussions were initially motivated by financial concerns. Library subscription revenues for The Accounting Review were more than covering the costs to publish and distribute the Review. By contrast, library subscriptions for Issues and Horizons were not covering publication and distribution costs and were considerably lower than those for the Review. While these financial results spurred a discussion about Horizons and Issues, we were mindful of at least three reasons to proceed cautiously. First, we were concerned that the cost allocations to the journals could be imprecise. In fact, we were in the process of forming a task force to review the AAA's cost allocations. Second, even if the cost allocations were accurate to a first approximation, the journals could be "profitable" even if library subscription revenues were not covering the publication costs. For example, in the extreme if many members sole reason for belonging to the AAA was to receive Horizons and Issues, then their membership fees are helping finance these journals. Third, even if we could allocate all of the inflows and outflows accurately (which is virtually impossible because of joint costs and joint benefits), there is no need for every AAA activity to cover its costs for the organization to best meet its mission.
Notwithstanding these caveats, the lower library subscription revenues for Horizons and Issues suggested the possibility that these journals were not meeting a significant portion of the members' needs adequately. Again, I want to emphasize that we recognized that this could have been occurring even if many members valued the journals highly, which we fully expected was true based on our own experiences and the data on numbers of members choosing Horizons and Issues as their journals as part of member dues. This said, our thinking has been greatly influenced by the following argument. First, for years the Executive Committee has heard through surveys and Membership Committee reports that many members do not value the Review highly (if at all). Some members do not conduct similar research, some members are not interested in this kind of scholarly work, and some members do not feel they have time to read and sufficiently digest the articles in the Review. We understand that this group constitutes a significant portion of the membership, perhaps thousands of members, and that the AAA must determine ways to create more value for these members to fully realize its potential. For the sake of the current argument, the critical point here is that there is general agreement that the Review likely does not serve the needs of thousands of members. Second, the library subscription revenues for the Review are quite high even though it does not appeal to thousands of members. Third, virtually all AAA members are interested in teaching and practice issues, especially issues related to courses we teach. This is a common interest. Fourth, we would expect that if Horizons and Issues were meeting these needs adequately for a significant portion of the membership, their library subscription revenues would exceed those of the Review -- students and faculty would pressure librarians to subscribe.
Our conclusion from this argument and from having read Horizons and Issues is that these journals do an excellent job of meeting the "practice and teaching" needs of many members but that they likely do not meet these needs for a significant portion of the membership. For example, most of us with financial accounting interests highly value the articles in Horizons, especially the commentaries by leading academics and practitioners. However, Horizons has not published many commentaries by leading tax or systems academics and practitioners and, in fact, some have argued that it is decidedly partial to financial reporting and auditing issues. We fully expect that the proposed new journal would continue to publish the types of articles that have appeared in Horizons and it would publish a similar volume of these articles as currently appear in Horizons. However, in addition, it would likely publish a comparable number of similar articles in tax, managerial, systems, and auditing. This could be accomplished cost effectively by using a combination of on-line and hard-copy means. The Executive Committee also believed last spring and continues to believe that many members highly value Issues because it meets their needs, especially those whose institutional responsibilities are primarily teaching related. For the proposed new journal to succeed, it must continue to meet these members' needs. But it must also meet the teaching-related needs of the rest of the membership. One of the ways this could be accomplished in the proposed new journal would be by combining a diverse set of peer-reviewed on-line teaching materials with hard-copy articles referencing them.
To summarize, last spring's financial concerns lead us to an informal "gap analysis" similar to that described above. At this point, there was virtually no discussion about combining the journals. Rather, our objective was to create additional value by meeting the majority of our members' needs more effectively. We understood that this value could be created by some combination of cutting costs or increasing benefits that members (or libraries) would value.
As a result of the spring discussions and similar discussions at the summer meeting of the Executive Committee, in August 2002 a small task force of Executive Committee members was assigned to further study the issue and report back to the Executive Committee during the fall meeting. This task force (Pete Wilson, Larry Tomassini, Bill McCarthy, and Kevin Stocks) came to the fall meeting with initial ideas about ways to improve the journals along the lines discussed earlier.
Given the clear understanding that a broad range of members' needs and interests must be met by our journals, the decision was made to expand the task force with members outside the Executive Committee who represented broad perspectives on members' interests, the task force included: Frank Buckless (North Carolina State and VP Academic of the Teaching and Curriculum Section), Susan Crosson (Santa Fe Community College, AAA Membership Committee Chair, and text book contributor), Bill McCarthy (Michigan State University and lead instructor for the AAA's AIS Teaching Workshop series), Kevin Stocks (BYU, AAA Vice President Education and former Teaching and Curriculum Section Chair), Pete Wilson (Boston College, AAA President, and former community college teacher), and Larry Tomassini (Ohio State University, text book author, and AAA VP Publications). Later, Bob Libby (the VP-elect of Publications and text book author) joined the task force. Thus, the task force was selected with a decided bias towards individuals who have a proven commitment to teaching and curriculum development.
The expanded task force was asked to bring recommendations to the Executive Committee for the spring meeting (March 14-16, 2003). To this end, the Publications committee drafted background assumptions, goals, and recommendations and submitted these to the task force. The task force reviewed and modified these and put them forth to the Executive Committee. They are available online at: http://aaahq.org/pubs/Plan2003/index.htm
The Executive Committee spent an extended period discussing the recommendations made by the task force, and voted to present the recommendations to Council for their consultation during their meeting the next day, indicating the Executive Committee's belief that the recommended new journal would better meet the needs of members for instructional development materials, information about effective curriculum innovations, and relevant applied research and commentary on practice issues.
When you review the recommendations you will see that the aim of the new plan is to capture those elements most prized in Horizons (commentaries and integrative applications) and Issues (cases and instructional innovations) and focus them together to create new synergies. The section mid-year meetings demonstrate that tremendous synergies can be realized by combining "practice and teaching" issues. One of the primary reasons that these mid-year meetings are highly valued by a broad cross-section of members with diverse teaching and research interests is that they combine applied scholarship and instructional development. This suggests that similar synergies can be realized by combining applied scholarship and instructional development into a single journal. A further aim of the proposed new journal is to strengthen the Association's commitment to recognizing these types of work and our peer review structures to support that process.
During the Council's discussion of the issues both ideas and concerns were raised. Those suggestions served as the basis for the Executive Committee's lengthy deliberations the next day. In particular, we spent time addressing two questions: Why not improve the two existing journals rather than start a new one? Why not survey the membership before making a decision? In the process of addressing these questions, we thoroughly and forcefully argued virtually all of the issues raised by Council members during their meeting the previous afternoon. After extensive deliberation, the Executive Committee voted unanimously in favor of the four recommendations presented to the Council, which were put forth by the task force and supported by the Publications Committee (see Pete Wilson's follow up memo to members of Council at http://aaahq.org/pubs/Plan2003/index.htm for greater detail and responses to the questions raised):
1. We recommend that a single Association-wide journal be developed that meets the needs of those with interests in applied scholarship and instructional development. This journal would include submitted and commissioned articles on curriculum innovation, teaching materials and strategies (cases, assignments, novel approaches and methods), applied research on issues and controversies in practice and teaching, and integrative applications of research to teaching and accounting practice. Like TAR, the focus would be on all sub-areas of accounting (managerial, financial, etc.). In addition, book reviews should be moved from TAR to the new journal.
2. The new journal will continue in print form and be published quarterly, but will also rely more on technology to improve service to subscribers. Cost, timeliness of dissemination, and use of multimedia applications suggest that some of the submissions may be better suited to summary hardcopy publication combined with complete online publication. Articles relying on software and databases, extensive case materials, and AAA policy-related committee reports are excellent candidates for this approach.
3. The peer review process should be designed to ensure that the journal is known for supporting the highest quality applied scholarship and instructional development. Co-editor and department editor models similar to those used by many journals should be seriously considered for the new journal. Editor transition issues must also be addressed.
4. TAR should focus exclusively on basic scholarship and be the only association-wide journal with that focus.
While it's true that weaknesses of both journals were discussed in the process, and possible cost considerations and the uncertainty of the environment for academic publications taken into account, our primary interest in this new plan is better meeting members' needs for resources and outlets for their work.
Some of you have voiced concerns that the process used to consider the future of our association-wide journals did not include members with interests in teaching and curriculum areas and/or applied research. While my experience working in different kinds of institutions helps me to understand these concerns, I believe the background provided here should ease them. My goal is continuing my work to eliminate the corrosive assumptions among some members that faculty whose primary responsibilities require research do not care about teaching, and that those whose institutional missions focus more heavily on teaching cannot understand or appreciate the usefulness of research. I am deeply committed to the notion that the AAA has talented and dedicated members who are committed to their schools' diverse missions and that these diverse missions are essential to a democratic process and to our economic success. Our deliberations as a governing structure have reflected those goals.
In the event we go forward with the proposed new journal, there will still be implementation issues to be discussed to insure a seamless transition for subscribers, authors, and editors. We recognize those issues and have begun discussions of how to be certain that the value of author's work in Issues and Horizons would be enhanced by the transition.
The Executive Committee and Task Force have spent significant time analyzing and trying to understand this issue from the perspectives of members with diverse research-practice-teaching interests. We understand that it can be difficult to trust that colleagues will raise all the issues, thus we have developed a link to the discussion forum on the AAA website at http://aaahq.org/pubs/Plan2003/index.htm where you can click on "AAA Journal Discussion" to add your perspectives to the conversation. On that web page you will also find links to the reports linked to in this message.
Many of the emails we received expressed considerable concern that the Executive Committee acted too hastily and without consulting the membership adequately. We gave serious consideration to delaying the decision until after we had time to consult with the membership during forums at the annual and regional meetings. In the end, there were three reasons why we decided to vote on the recommendations in March. First, we believed that we had analyzed the recommendations from the diverse perspectives of the membership with consultation from Council, the Task Force, and the Publications Committee. Second, we believed that there would still be plenty of decisions to be made where we would need membership input. In fact, we viewed the decision as a first step in a long process of continuous improvement. Third, we believed that it is the responsibility of the Executive Committee to act in a leadership role to address the needs of the membership, to use the information gathered by many members in their volunteer roles on committees like the Membership and Publications Committees to understand our changing environment and take directions to benefit the Association and its members.
To summarize, we continue to believe that replacing Issues and Horizons with a new journal is the best way to proceed but we plan to reconsider all options after consulting with Council at next year's spring meeting. We will listen carefully to all suggestions and concerns and we will particularly welcome those that will help us mitigate divisiveness, promote our common interests, maintain the goals for the proposed new journal or similar goals for the existing journals, and manage the transition risks. In this regard, we wish to thank you for your input.
April 15, 2003 Message from G. Peter Wilson (President of the American Accounting Association)
|My message below was posted at: http://aaahq.org/pubs/Plan2003/index.htm
where the AAA has created the message board. As an aside, I was at the
AAA Mid-Atlantic Regional conference yesterday where the AAA
President-Elect spoke. To the best of my recollection, he stated that
the any change to the journals would take at least a few years ( I think
he said three) and would not happen at the earliest until the length of
terms offerred to the current editors of IAE and AH had expired. He also
seem to imply that the change over was not a done -deal. I think he also
said money was not the major issue, but that a new combined journal
might better serve the membership. Jim McKinney
I am very much opposed to starting a new journal in place of IAE and AH. Having read Pete Wilson's arguments and those contained on the AECM@LISTSERV.LOYOLA.EDU listserv (many of which are found at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm ), I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the executive committee erred. I think that the wise thing to do is to perform a survey of the members (allowing members to see alternative arguments not just those for adopting the executive committee actions). The AICPA caused a great deal of harm to its organization as a result of the cognitor - xyz matter. It finally cut its losses by taking it to the membership. That allowed the AICPA to gracefully back off the decision that so few members made. I think few members are strongly in favor of removing or combining IAE and AH. However, I think many members strongly oppose those actions.
From: Wallace, Wanda [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2003 2:19 PM
To: Jensen, Robert Subject: Please get the news out!
Bob, while space is constrained on the web site the AAA has, I urge you to excerpt from your longer discussion the points on the costs and the revenues associated with Issues and Horizons and post them ASAP, so others will be informed!!
The excerpt from the AAA follows FYI,
April 14, 2003 Reply from Bob Jensen
|I am very displeased with
the news of the elimination of Accounting Horizons and Issues in
Accounting Education. This issue needs to be opened to the entire
membership of the AAA for a vote for the following reasons:
1. Both journals have prominently served and continue to serve the association and the accounting profession well.
A. Accounting Horizons.
This journal was
originally established as a link between the
B. Issues in Accounting Education (IAH). Submissions to IAE remain high according to the editor. A review of the June 2002 statistics yielded a 14.5% acceptance rate, which most would find to be a relatively rigorous standard. IAE was recently rated in the top 16 most popular accounting journals worldwide (#12 in the USA). The journal produces useful articles addressing teaching issues, as well as case studies and other teaching materials for classroom use. Many of us routinely use IAE cases in the classroom and find the articles both relevant and helpful.
2. Signaling, Brand Effect and Pricing. To eliminate both journals is a signal to the world that publications in both journals have been substandard and that the AAA didn't get it right, a signal that is misdirected at best. It is hard for me to fathom that the AAA, a group composed primarily of accounting academics, would like to signal to the world that we are incapable of putting out a quality education journal. Further, having run regional meetings and always having had close contact to the AAA throughout my life, I know both of these journals add world recognition to the AAA and service the majority of a very broad AAA membership (hence their high popularity discussed in 1 A&B above). In fact, AH and IAE probably cater more to a broader section of our overall membership pool than any other journals, and both journals serve as important research outlets for tenure-track faculty and other scholars. When you have this type of strong brand recognition, you don't eliminate that brand and replace it with an unknown. This would be like Coca-Cola saying they would rather rename their product Zap Cola than adjust the secret ingredient formula. If this “new” journal is going to "emphasize practitioner issues and, in particular, “... build on many of the features of Horizons" while at the same time addressing education issues why not just keep (and adjust if need be) Horizons and Issues. If cost is an issue for such immensely popular items, we should look to the restaurant industry to tell us that repricing is a much smarter solution than elimination. Certainly, cost control tactics could be explored as well.
3. Membership was not truly represented in this decision. Perhaps my biggest frustration is the apparent lack of democratic process, as the decision seems to be much more autocratic in nature. Specifically, the decision appears to have been made by a small group, without vote or prior input from membership, and was a complete surprise to both the membership and the editors. A further concern is that there continues to be a commitment to defending the decision rather than truly seeking to learn what the membership would prefer. However, this discussion board is a solid step in the right direction, albeit I still have concern as to whether the membership will actually get to vote or really impact the decision in any meaningful manner. It really makes a difference when you give the membership a chance for input. Even if you come to the same decision, at least people would have had a say and would have felt some representation in the process. I hope the AAA leadership realizes that much of the significant resentment of this these decisions could have been mitigated had the democratic process been followed.
Susan H. Ivancevich, PhD, CPA
|Bob: I spoke
recently with Bill Felix, at the Mid-Atlantic Regional meeting
(Philadelphia). Our discussion regarding the recent decision of the
Executive Committee was cordial. He asked me to follow up by forwarding
my comments to him in writing. I have done so. Attached is a copy of the
memo I sent to him yesterday, with a copy to Jane Mutchler.
As part of my e-mail to each of these individuals I asked permission to send my memo to you for possible posting on your webpage. Each contacted me today and indicated no reservations in doing so.
You may want to consider posting the contents of the attached file as a new posting, or you may want to replace my original posting. (The attached file contains more extensive thoughts than the document from me that appears currently on your webpage.)
Thanks, again, for playing an important role in making information on the EC's decision available to AAA members.
David E. Stout
Bill Felix, President-Elect
David E. Stout,
Comments Regarding Association-Wide Journals
Monday, April 28, 2003
year’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting (in
A lot has
been written on the issue thus far, as evidenced by the many e-mail
transmittals, postings on Bob Jensen’s webpage, and a discussion group
created recently by the Teaching & Curriculum Section of the AAA.
Inevitably, some of my own comments will reiterate what others have
said. At the same time, because of my background in the area of
accounting education research (as editor, author, and editorial board
member) I believe I have some insights on this issue that may be unique.
As in our discussion in
through his various e-mail transmittals, has tried—unsuccessfully, I
believe—to make the case that in reaching its decision the EC had
broad and adequate representation from the AAA membership. I think the
“representation” was more apparent than real; furthermore it seems
the EC’s decision was influenced heavily by statements (as noted in
the next section of this memo, I would not characterize these as
“arguments”) made in a Task Force Report.
A number of
academics, through service as editors, editorial board members,
education committee members, and authors, have demonstrated a commitment
to the development of accounting education research and publication. For
example, I have a twenty-year history of just such a commitment, as do
several others I could name. Why were none of us included on the Task
Force? Most disturbing to me, given the time and effort we have devoted
to the task, why were no former editors of Issues
or Horizons included as
members of the Task Force or, if not that, at least solicited directly
for input, prior to the EC’s
decision? I cannot speak for the rest of these editors/former editors,
but this omission was insulting to me, and, ultimately, resulted in the
Task Force making what I believe to be some erroneous and debatable
statements in its report.
insulting is a comment in the Task Force Report that input from the
membership on this issue was not solicited as it would be “predictably
unreliable” (or words to that effect). Dennis Beresford captured the
essence of this problem when he referred to “the pure arrogance of
(this) statement.” Virtually
everyone with whom I have spoken regarding this statement is quite
upset. Who on the Task Force has been (or is) a major “player” in
the area of accounting education research/publication? Who has published
extensively in Accounting Horizons, or served in an editorial capacity for that
journal? Frankly, given the constitution of the Task Force, I am
surprised that the EC gave any
consideration to its “report.” Contrary to what seems to be implied
by Peter Wilson’s recent e-mails on the subject, the make-up of the
Task Force was, in my opinion, flawed. What credibility does this Task
Force have in making recommendations concerning the future of Issues
In short, my
concern is that the decision-making process was flawed from the start:
there was not broad representation on the Task Force, nor was there
representation by individuals (such as former editors of Issues
or Horizons) who have detailed knowledge and information regarding
issues covered in the Task Force Report to the EC.
important the decision regarding the fate of Issues
and Horizons, the EC should know that many AAA members (as judged by the
comments posted on Bob Jensen’s webpage) are justifiably upset about
the decision-making process of the organization in general. There seems
to be a growing perception on the part of AAA members that they have
been excluded from the process because their insights might be
pedestrian or worse. Many of us who have been connected with these two
journals have been more than willing to give of our time in the
positions of leadership we held. How do you think we feel now? How will
others in the organization respond to calls for volunteer duty as they
come to realize that their labor is valued but their opinion is
inconsequential to what they view as a detached and arrogant power
above, I was not directly involved in the decision-making process
regarding the decision to replace Issues and Horizons with a
new, hybrid journal. Thus, I have to rely on my reading of the various
memos and e-mails that have surfaced recently, as well as on my reading
of the Task Force Report. I will not attempt here to respond in detail
to all of the issues that have surfaced, although given a different
venue I would be perfectly willing to do so. I will, however, comment on
what I see as the major points that have arisen.
The Subscription Issue
discussed during our meeting in
In the space
below I provide a perspective that I have yet to see in any of the
correspondence and e-mails that have dealt recently with the
“subscription issue.” I think the EC may be relying on inappropriate
data/assumptions regarding the level of subscriptions, which data were
ostensibly relied upon at least to some extent by the EC in reaching its
decision to replace Issues and
Horizons. I believe the
underlying logic of the “subscription argument” can be questioned
from the following two perspectives.
Subscriptions—in my opinion, a fair test of the “demand” from
this sector has yet to be made. In other words, I do not think you can
conclude much by looking at the current subscription patterns of
institutions across the country. Our university currently carries The
Accounting Review, but neither of the other two association-wide
journals. This has more to do with historical antecedence than demand
preferences. In our case, which I believe to be similar to that of many
other institutions, no one has forced the demand issue by polling the
accounting faculty. Put differently, if our library came to the
accounting faculty now and asked us “if we can afford only one AAA
association-wide journal, which do you want,” I believe, given
our institutional mission, that our response would not be The
Accounting Review. If the AAA wants reliable data on the issue, why
not ask each department head across the country which association-wide
journal he/she would pick, assuming a single choice?
believe a similar argument can be made with respect to personal
subscriptions. In my opinion, whatever data the AAA is relying on to
draw inferences regarding journal demand is likely flawed: the
association never properly framed the issue to its members. Why not
resolve this once and for all by simply polling the members? Which
journal(s), if you had to choose only one (or two) association-wide
journals, would you pick? In my case, it would clearly be Horizons
A digression, in the form of a request to the EC in general, and
you in particular, may be appropriate here. The first AAA Council
Meeting I attended was held, I believe, in
profess to have extensive knowledge in this area, nor does, I suspect,
anyone on the Executive Committee. I can, however, provide one example
that may cause the EC to reexamine its decision to create a new, hybrid
journal. Several years ago, the Financial Management Association (FMA)
created a hybrid journal called Financial
Practice and Education. As the name implies, the journal published
educational pieces and practitioner-related articles. (I published a
couple of educational pieces in this journal myself.) The journal is now
defunct—it lasted only a relatively short time. I think it is likely,
perhaps appropriate, that others discount these items on my
resume--items published in a journal that no longer exists. What are the
chances that either of these articles will be cited by others? What is
the likelihood that these articles will be included in any
faculty-productivity studies in the future? Perhaps there are other,
positive examples of what the AAA has in mind in terms of the new
journal it is contemplating. At a minimum, however, the EC (and the
membership!) should know that a recent experiment by a closely allied
association resulted in failure. What is the risk that the same fate
would befall any new hybrid journal created by the AAA?
Journal Editors—Just How
Difficult to Secure?
There is a
statement in the Task Force Report that I and the current editor of Issues
(confirmed via personal correspondence) find particularly offensive: the
supposed inability to get competent editors for Issues
in Accounting Education. This statement is both false and insulting,
particularly to Tom and me, but to all preceding editors who have served
the AAA so faithfully. Tom and I have both been involved in accounting
education research and publication almost “from the beginning.” As
such, I feel each of us is a major “player” in the area with unique
perspectives, information, and experience. I look at the composition of
the Task Force and ask myself: what on earth qualifies any of these
individuals to speak to the ability of the AAA to secure competent
editors for Issues? What is
the source of their information? When the Publication Committee begins
the process of finding the next editor of Issues, which it must
do regardless of the current discussion, I suggest a phone call to those
of us who might know of good candidates would be a very good idea.
opinion, the comment made by the Task Force regarding this issue should
be dismissed for what it is: an offensive statement, with no basis in
fact, made by ill-informed individuals. The statement is wholly without
merit and would likely be considered offensive by anyone who might
consider himself or herself a candidate to become editor of Issues or Horizons. An
apology for such derogation is warranted.
The issue of
“quality”—first raised in the Task Force Report to the
EC—pervades much of the discourse in recent e-mails and web postings
(e.g., Bob Jensen’s webpage). This is yet another area where
statements (or at least intimations) were made in the Task Force Report
without evidentiary support. Until such evidence becomes available, I
suggest we temper our comments in this regard and treat what is stated
in the Task Force Report as speculative.
has asked me to write an opinion piece regarding the issue of “quality
and accounting education research,” for inclusion in the August 2003
issue of Issues in Accounting
Education. I have agreed to do so and, thus, will reserve for that
venue some specific thoughts and comments. At the same time, I feel
comfortable in revealing what I believe will be the concluding comment
in my opinion piece: Issues in
Accounting Education, through the work and dedicated effort of many
members in our profession, has become the premier
business education journal in the world. Why would the AAA want to
kill this product? Why the intimations regarding the “poor quality”
of the journal? Why is the AAA not being more celebratory regarding our
success in this regard? What does it say about the implicit value
proposition of the AAA as it relates to many (if not most) of its
Journal Submissions: Issues in
assumed the editorship of Issues in Accounting Education, I promised the Publications
Committee of the AAA that our new team would focus on quality and
enhancing the stature of the journal. A number of changes were
instituted to ensure quality, as will be detailed in my forthcoming
opinion piece. These changes, continued and reinforced by the current
editor, have in my opinion resulted in increased rigor (“raising the
bar”) and an overall higher quality journal. The market for papers in
accounting education is reasonably efficient. Thus, it is entirely
reasonable that some decrease in submissions to the journal would occur
in response to the increased expectations for publication. In fact, I
would say that you can’t have one without the other. As part of the
editor transition process I indicated to my successor, Tom Howard, that
he should expect to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 100
submissions per year. My personal communication with Tom confirms that
we are “on target” in terms of our budgeted level of submissions.
Who on the Task Force had this information? Why, before making what is
at best a misleading statement regarding the level of submissions, did
no one bother to ask individuals who might have knowledge and background
information regarding the issue of submissions? This issue could have
been addressed expeditiously if someone had only asked, or if Tom or I
were a member of the Task Force.
I would like
to reiterate two points I made to you during our meeting in
you for the opportunity to provide input into the decision.
April 18, 2003 message from David Stout to Dick Baker
I need your advice on something. In dealing with the issue of "quality," as it relates to association-wide journals of the AAA, I would like to gain access to results of a study that, several years ago, was commissioned by the Executive Committee. (I have made note of this two each of you in the recent past.) Memory tells me that the (very brief) discussion of the results of this survey occurred at the Council Meeting held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting held in Cinncinati. I cannot be sure about this, but I think this was the meeting.
My question is: whom should I contact to get a copy of the survey results? My recollection is that an outside firm did the study for the AAA, but again I cannot be sure about this. My recollection also is that the study obtained perceptions of AAA members regarding value of the association, value of its various publications, etc., and that these perceptions were compared to those obtained from I think it was two comparison groups (e.g., professional engineers). The results of this study cast the AAA in a very negative light, along most if not all of the dimensions covered in the study.
Dick, is this the same study to which you referred recently in one of your e-mails to us? The other thing I remember about this study is that Kent St. Pierre was in attendance. He and I were there to represent the T&C Section. (This I am sure about. I remember quite distinctly that I came late to the meeting--I was presenting a paper at a concurrent session--and as I started to take my seat next to Kent a tap on the shoulder and the following comment to me came from Andy Bailey, who was sitting in the row behind where I was to sit: "Excuse me, this is a closed meeting. Do you have business here?" Hell no, I just came in to empty the ashtrays and refill the water glasses!)
There is another thing I remember about this meeting. Tony Tinker was talking about something related, I believe, to the voting process; he was basically laughed off the floor by members of the Executive Committee.
Back to my question: how can we secure a copy of the report discussed at the Council meeting to which I refer? It would seem to contain important information that AAA members should have access to as we debate things like perceptions of quality, the fate of our association-wide journals, etc.
It is difficult to try to keep everyone in the loop here. I am copying Bob Jensen on this request because he, more than anyone thus far, has played a key role in providing a forum for the discussion of both the factors affecting the recent decision of the Executive Committee and the process leading to that decision. For this we should all be very thankful.
David E. Stout
April 28, 2003 reply from Craig Polhemus [Joedpo@AOL.COM]
|Note the following at http://raw.rutgers.edu/raw/aaa/tccomm/newsletters/index.htm
T&C Connections Forum on Issues in Accounting Education
Recently, the AAA Executive Committee has voted to replace Issues in Accounting Education and Accounting Horizons by a new journal that combines applied scholarship and instructional development. It appears that cases and instructional resources will be included in the new journal. However, the extent to which the type of conceptual and empirical research articles on accounting education currently published in Issues and other accounting education journals will be published in the new journal is not clear.
The T&C Executive Committee would like to hear your views on these developments and on possible T&C responses. For example, some members have suggested that if Issues is eliminated, the Section could consider developing a journal at least on an annual basis for publishing conceptual and empirical articles. I have set up a discussion group on Yahoo. Many of you may have participated in or be aware of other forums on this particular topic (e.g., http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/AAAjournals.htm ). However, I believe that it is important to have a forum addressing this issue from a T&C Section perspective. In other words, the implications of the proposed AAA decision for T&C Section members and possible T&C responses need to be addressed. Please refer to the instructions provided by our webmaster for joining this group. In order to restrict access to T&C members, the group is set up to require approval before new members are added. Thus, when you complete the process for joining, an email will be sent to me. Upon my response, you will be added to the group. Identifying technology solutions for connecting members is only one aspect of better communications and a sense of community. The T&C Connections Committee report recognizes that getting people involved and engaged with these technologies is a significant issue. I hope you will get involved in our pilot discussion and set the stage for interactions on varied topics in the future. Our webmaster (Gail Cook) has kindly agreed to answer any questions on joining the group.
Other Messages After April 10, 2003
April 14, 2003 Message From Paul Polinski [pwp3@PO.CWRU.EDU]
Bob Jensen wrote:
:President Wilson's message below seems to duck the issue of costs and provides a really convoluted argument that the two journals are not serving the AAA membership. The problem is that the message below from President Wilson really does not supply any hard data upon which the membership can :realistically debate this proposal by the President Wilson and the current Executive Committee.
I, too, found Pete Wilson's reliance on library subscription data to make inferences about relevance rather puzzling. Most institutions assess the worth of research via citation analysis and informed judgments of impact for p&t decisions, for deciding on research contribution awards, and even in studies of research productivity. Why not use the same metrics here?
It would seem logical to provide some evidence backing up the views of folks in this discussion thread (especially given the perception of the dominance of the 'positivist' philosophy in AAA-sponsored research). I suggest that, in preparation for the 'town hall' discussion, thread discussants and others that have used articles from either journal in teaching or research provide evidence of such (via syllabi, working papers, research articles, or other documents) so that it may be synthesized and delivered at the discussion. For instance, in teaching Intermediate II last fall, I presented, and the class discussed, three Horizons articles that are relevant to class topics. (One article is from the late 80s, and therefore may not be considered 'recent.' The three articles are listed at
http://weatherhead.cwru.edu/faculty_research/homes/polinski/teacharts.htm .) I plan to do the same this fall as well, and will update my articles list accordingly for more recent, relevant work.
I think it would be much harder for the EC to ignore clear evidence of the relevance of the journals, when the evidence is delivered via the methods most often used to measure and assess relevance.
"Accounting Educators Fight to Keep Two Journals,"
by the SmartPros Editorial Staff --- http://www.smartpros.com/x37853.xml
"Decision to Deep-Six Accounting Journals Causes Quite a Stir,"
by the AccountingWeb Editorial Staff --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=97403
Bob Jensen's newsletters are archived at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Bob Jensen's home page is at http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/