Accounting Research in China: Graduate Students

It has been approximately two years since the very first touch on the contemporary research of accounting through a talk to my present tutor, Prof. Wang, a young scholar. Until then I found the existence of a new methodology called “Empirical Research”, a kind of methodology that adapts the data from the capital market for some test on the conclusions from other kind of papers, usually analytical ones in US and narrative ones in China. But the popularity of such methodology apparent brings the students of accounting, like us, great challenge with following reasons:

  • Most graduate students of accounting here in China, is mostly owning the background of arts, that is, they seldom getting full and sufficient training on science, such as computer programming skills and mathematical models. But unfortunately, the very fundamentals of empirical research requires skills on programming and mathematics, otherwise, you may have to confront great trouble when dealing with data and models.
  • Without sufficient knowledge on mathematics, they seldom have good opportunity to take some course on branches of mathematics, such as real analysis, game theory, differential equations, etc. These courses provide fundamentals for research tools in the subject of economics, which is widely used in analytical accounting research. That can partially explain why there is little analytical researches in China.
  • Unlike the students in US that are entitled of excellent computer competence, we feel great trouble on programming due to insufficient trainings in high school and college. Undoubtedly, most modules that we use are available through the internet, but we fail to get a chance for some modifications that promote our efficiency. And, improper program sometimes can even abandon a good works that should have been published sometimes. The only cause for this is the poor computer competence.

Though so many problems occur, they can hardly be obstacles for researchers in accounting, except for the students like us. The limitation on skills of data management and statistical model selection can be easily solved through the cooperation among scholars, which is getting popular in China. But such cooperation among students is still quite seldom to see. I personally interpret it as the following reasons:

  • Very few students can fully master the knowledge needed for a qualified research under a present style of higher education that enforce much on books but seldom focus on usage.
  • Cooperation can cause some conflicts, such as the name rank for publications, which are to be crucial criteria for researchers and students.

Besides the problems on technology and background knowledge, funding should also not be overlooked. As a graduate student, getting the chance for some top-level academic conference seems to be beneficial. But such opportunity is quite rare in China especially for the students who are qualified and willing to join some international conferences. For this, I often admire my friends in Hong Kong and Taiwan since their abundant funding from their department. An apparent example for this is the refusal of funding for my participation of APJAE symposium from a leader of my department last year, with the only reason that I am a student, but not a faculty!

For followers who are willing to pursue their masters’ and PhD degree on accounting, you are suggested to get a good professor, and prepare yourself sufficiently for fundamental knowledge. They are both easy to solve. But once you are willing to learn more from others from conferences, it can be difficult under most occasions unless you are following a good professor who are about to pay the travelling cost for you.

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