Contemporary Issues in Accounting

Critical Article Review:

We know that most, if not all of you, will never have critiqued an article before. The ability to summarise and develop an argument based on a research source is a crucial skill in accounting firms and public policy roles, as well as in academic work. It is about identifying what is important in the article, what is useful, what is different or unique and how that might be informative.

So, how do you do the article critique?

a) You need to read the article.
This means read closely. We would suggest read once, generally. Then, read again, with a highlighter – but highlight selectively – what is interesting/new/challenging for you. I would then read a third time, this time, taking notes based on the key ideas that you have highlighted. This will be the beginnings of your overview.

PART ONE: Briefly overview the article (max 150 words) 30%
b) Develop a sentence to respond to this question: What is the main argument in the article? What is the author trying to tell you about accounting? This is likely to be the lead sentence in your assignment.
a. Eg. in relation to Hines (1988) on “Financial Accounting: In communicating reality accounting, we construct reality”, I would argue:
Hines (1988) argues that the central power in accounting is held by accountants, as accountants choose what matters and how that will be presented, thus simultaneously constructing accounting and the organisation at the same time.
b. Eg. in relation to Watts & Zimmerman (1990) on Positive Accounting Theory.
In summarising the development of Positive Accounting Theory (PAT), Watts & Zimmerman defend their theoretical contribution, but recognise that what was supposed to be an objective, independent framework for theory in accounting is permeated by elements of normativism such as the self-interest paradox.
This is a subjective process – there is no right answer per se, as each understanding of the article is personal.
However, there are wrong interpretations – eg. Hines (1988) represents a positivist stance on accounting or Watts & Zimmerman (1990) recognise a role for critical theory research in accounting.
Given the word count for this overview section, you will need to work hard on each sentence here. So, you need to display good editing skills: write, rewrite, read, edit, rewrite (it is an iterative process).
c) Develop an overview of the article (at no more than 150 words). Begin with your lead sentence and then write 3 or 4 more sentences to provide support for how your article develops this position.
You should reference where necessary (so ideas should be given a page number).
However, we do not want you to quote from the article – this is your words to understand someone else’s words. Thus, the abstract of the article is the author’s idea of contribution to the academic world, and thus, is not representative of what you found interesting or useful or different about the article.
PART TWO: Critically reflect on what is positive or negative about the article from an academic perspective (max 250 words)
To critically reflect on something means to develop a way, with support, of telling us whether you agree with the article that you selected.
You may use ‘I’ in this section because you are expressing your personal viewpoints about the article, but you should provide as much support from other sources (Deegan or Gaffikin) in the development of your opinion.
We suggest that that there are two ways to do this:
A: The Comparative Technique
You need to compare the article to other material on the topic. Thus, we would suggest you compare the article to the relevant chapter in either Deegan or Gaffikin.
In you two paragraphs, you are answering the following questions:
i) How is your article similar or different from the corresponding chapter in Deegan or Gaffikin is saying?
ii) Do you agree or disagree with what your article is saying and why? You need to give support (references) for this position (so either, from your article or from the chapter from Deegan or Gaffikin, or a combination of both).
We do not expect you to use any other resources, although you may choose to if you wish.
B: The Analytical Technique
Identify TWO statements or ideas from your article that you find interesting or significant. These could for example, be statements that you strongly agree or disagree with. This is similar to your tutorial exercise in Weeks 3, 4 and 6. You will need to quote the statement or ideas, but this does not count towards your word count.
Thus, your 250 words should follow this pattern:
i) Present Example 1 (this is not part of the word count)
ii) Evaluate why you find this example interesting. You should use support (from Deegan, Gaffikin or other sources) in why it is interesting.
iii) Present Example 2 (this is not part of the word count) and evaluate this example.

PART THREE: Identify whether, how and why this article will or will not be useful for your chosen essay topic due in Week 13 (max 100 words)
This part requires you to do two things:
a) Why are you interested in your topic (accounting regulation, social and environmental accounting, or accounting and society)? and;
b) What you have learnt from evaluating your article in relation to your chosen topic (accounting regulation, social and environmental accounting, or accounting and society)?

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