Abundant publications but minuscule impact: The irrelevance of academic accounting research on practice and the profession

Kym Fraser, Benedict Sheehy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)


Criticism about the practical usefulness of academic accounting research produced in university business schools has been growing for some time. Due to accounting being an applied social science, many stakeholders question the relevance and value of research published in accounting journals to the accounting profession, practitioners and society in general. This paper highlights the various areas of criticism and discusses factors which underline the issue. While most of the criticism is anecdotal, this study sets about to empirically explore practitioners’ perception of academia, and research published in academic accounting journals. To better understand the situation in accounting, a comparison of two other applied academic disciplines is undertaken, involving medical and engineering practitioners. The study found that for accounting there were major differences in the sourcing of information, and significant differences between the other two applied fields with respect to the utilisation and the need for academic material. The findings lead to the conclusion that academic accounting researchers are now nearly totally divorced from the real-world profession of accounting. If we were to take a singular view on the purpose of academic accounting research, then the current situation could leave accounting researchers very vulnerable to adverse decisions with respect to the allocation of future government funding. The conclusions of this paper propose a series of thought-provoking questions about the current state of accounting research, in the hope that it will stimulate debate and generate responses from the accounting community and other stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020


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