Trends in environmental accounting research within and outside of the accounting discipline

Mauricio Marrone, Martina Linnenluecke, Grant Richardson, Tom Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – The purpose of this article is to track the emergence of topics and research trends in environmental accounting research by using a machine learning method for literature reviews. The article shows how the method can track the emergence of topics and research trends over time.

Design/methodology/approach – The analysis of the emergence of topics and shifts in research trends was based on a machine learning approach that allowed the authors to identify “topic bursts” in publication data. The data set of this study contained, 2,502 records published between 1972 and 2019, both within and outside of accounting journals. The data set was assembled through a systematic keyword search of the literature.

Findings – Findings indicated that research studies within accounting journals have addressed sustainability concerns in a general fashion, with a recent focus on broad topics such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and stakeholder theory. Research studies published outside of accounting journals have focussed on more specific topics (e.g. the shift to a low-carbon or circular economy, the attainment of the sustainable development goals [SDGs], etc.) and new methodologies (e.g. accounting for ecosystem services).

Research limitations/implications – The method provides an approach for identifying “trending” topics within accounting and non-accounting journals and allows to identify topics and areas that could benefit from a greater exchange of ideas between accounting and non-accounting journals.

Originality/value – The authors provide a much needed review of research on the vitally important topic of environmental accounting not only in accounting journals but also in the broader research community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2167-2193
Number of pages27
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number8
Early online date8 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2020


  • Environmental accounting
  • Review
  • Topic burst
  • Carbon
  • Circular economy
  • Ecosystem services
  • Literature review
  • Climate change


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