What counts for quality in interdisciplinary accounting research in the next decade: A critical review and reflection

James Guthrie*, Lee D. Parker, John Dumay, Markus J. Milne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the focus and changing nature of measuring academic accounting research quality. The paper addresses contemporary changes in academic publishing, metrics for determining research quality and the possible impacts on accounting scholars. These are considered in relation to the core values of interdisciplinary accounting research ‒ that is, the pursuit of novel, rigorous, significant and authentic research motivated by a passion for scholarship, curiosity and solving wicked problems. The impact of changing journal rankings and research citation metrics on the traditional and highly valued role of the accounting academic is further considered. In this setting, the paper also provides a summary of the journal’s activities for 2018, and in the future.

Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on contemporary data sets, the paper illustrates the increasingly diverse and confusing array of “evidence” brought to bear on the question of the relative quality of accounting research. Commercial products used to rate and rank journals, and judge the academic impact of individual scholars and their papers not only offer insight and visibility, but also have the potential to misinform scholars and their assessors.

Findings: In the move from simple journal ranking lists to big data and citations, and increasingly to concerns with impact and engagement, the authors identify several challenges facing academics and administrators alike. The individual academic and his or her contribution to scholarship are increasingly marginalised in the name of discipline, faculty and institutional performance. A growing university performance management culture within, for example, the UK and Australasia, has reached a stage in the past decade where publication and citation metrics are driving allocations of travel grants, research grants, promotions and appointments. With an expanded range of available metrics and products to judge their worth, or have it judged for them, scholars need to be increasingly informed of the nuanced or not-so-nuanced uses to which these measurement systems will be put. Narrow, restricted and opaque peer-based sources such as journal ranking lists are now being challenged by more transparent citation-based sources.

Practical implications: The issues addressed in this commentary offer a critical understanding of contemporary metrics and measurement in determining the quality of interdisciplinary accounting research. Scholars are urged to reflect upon the challenges they face in a rapidly moving context. Individuals are increasingly under pressure to seek out preferred publication outlets, developing and curating a personal citation profile. Yet such extrinsic outcomes may come at the cost of the core values that motivate the interdisciplinary scholar and research.

Originality/value: This paper provides a forward-looking focus on the critical role of academics in interdisciplinary accounting research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-25
Number of pages24
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2019


  • Academic researchers
  • Algorithmic bots
  • Interdisciplinary accounting researchers
  • Metrics
  • Performance management systems


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