Accounting as a social science discipline

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Accounting as a social science discipline


Accounting as a social science discipline follows or uses the research methodology of the pure sciences which involves observation, description, classification,  and formulation of hypothesis, theories and discovery of laws.

Evidence which is facts or observations presented in support of an assert plays a major role in accounting research. This paper discuss what evidence is also what an accounting research is, the roles of evidence in this type of research. The methodology in accounting research and the role of evidence in this method. We will try to analyze some evidences used in accounting practice and research.

This research work will highlight the roles of evidence in accounting research, and will also focus on evidence in Accounting. We shall attempt to deal with reasoning, that has around which evidence revolves. In other words, some tools of logic can be brought to the fore with regard to accounting transaction.


EVIDENCE: Evidence are facts or observation presented in support of an assertion. It is synonymous with proof work, it is a concept which falls under logic, an outstanding branch of philosophy. Aguda defines “evidence” generally as ways by which a fact can be proved including orally testimony of persons who actually perceived the fact, the production of documents, the inspection of thing or places and so on. “ Evidence” has also been used in connection with the word “admissibility” for Instance , “when something is not evidence” Aguda interpreted it as saying that something is not “admissible”.

The concept of evidence is crucial to epistemology and the Philosophy of science. In epistemology, evidence is often taken to be relevant to justify belief, where the Later inturn is typically thought to be necessary for knowledge. Arguably, then and understanding of evidence is vital this, and understanding of evidence would be indispensible for comprehending the proper functioning of the scientific enterprise. For these reasons and others a Philosophical appreciation of evidence become pressing.

Evidence provides a ground for a belief or theory’ (Mautner, 184). Harvey Siegel (9) cities Kim as stating the following concerning evidence.

“The concept of evidence is inseparable from that of Justification. When we talk of “evidence” in an Epistemological sense we are talking about Justification, one thing is “evidence” For another just in case the first tend to enhance the reasonableness or justification of the Second and such evidential relations hold in part because of the “contents” of the items involved.

ACCOUNTING: Accounting has been defined in many ways, the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, New College Edition, pg 1, defines accounting as: The booking methods involved in making a financial record of business transactions and in the preparation of statements concerning the assets, Liabilities, and operating results of a business” definition by Niswonger and Feess goes in this manner, According is concerned with the process of recording, sorting, and summarizing data resulting from  business transactions and events. “The data are to a large extent but not exclusively of financial nature, and are frequently but not always stated in monetary terms. Accounting can further be defined as the process of  Recording , Analyzing, Summarizing, Presenting and Communicating economic information or economic activities by an accountant or his representatives, to those persons who have the need and right to be informed.


Accounting research is complex to define because it is not constant, early accounting research in the Pre 1960’s was mostly normative with the advent of the Journal of Accounting research, some advancement in finance such as efficient market hypothesis, created the ability to analyze a large statistical data set. Also the make known Brown’s and ball’s seminar work in 1968 research moved into positive research.

A cynical definition of research is: any paper that cites a lot of other accounting papers. This quick definition of research restricts accounting research to topics and methodology that are well established in the literature, it is unsafe but sometimes limiting. Research can also be seen as  alligent inquiry to seek facts, principles, theories, application etc; to search a examine with continue care; to make an extensive investigation into.

It is also the process of recording, summarizing, interpreting of information for decision making. Oler, Oler and Skousen (2009) attempt to characterized accounting research by looking at the topic, methodologies, and citations made by papers published in a set of six top accounting journals (AOS, CAR, JAE, JAR, RAST, TAR) their paper appears to be the first that attempts to characterize and define accounting research which are as follows:

  1. Accounting research is research into the effect of economic events.
  2. It tries to summarize, analyze, verify and report financial information.

Accounting effects tries to look for how accounting affect the world around as and how the world affects accounting. Using these models along with evidence such as financial statement, computers simulation and mathematical proofs, it gives us insights on how stakeholders use accounting information, the regulatory environment in which the accounting profession operates, all this examinations are done based on evidence.


There are two main types of research which are:

i         Positive

ii        Normative

Positive Research: Is the type of accounting research which seeks to explain and predict actual accounting practices. It is the explanation of accounting practices based on evidence available.

Normative: Seeks to derive and prescribe “optimal” accounting standards, that is, to derive accounting standards based on norms. By using the empirical method, the researcher has a systematic model that enables documentation of their result.

Accounting research methodology and evidence

Accounting uses 3 main methodologies to determine how a research is to be conducted these are;

I        Archival

  1. Analytical

iii.      Experimental

  1. Archival: This method is based on analysis and conclusions on objective data (evidenced) collected from repositories of third parties. Also included are studies in which the researches collected the data and in which the evidence has objective a mounts such as net income, sales, fees etc. Ball and Shivakamar(2008).
  2. Analytical: Research who utilize this type of method bases analysis and conclusion on formally modeling theories or substantiated ideas in mathematical terms. It uses mathematical evidences to predicts, explain substance to theory.

iii. Experimental: This method utilize experimental methods base analysis and conclusion on evidence, the researcher gathered by administering treatments to subject. It employs random assignment. Experimental research can conclude analyzing both economic and behavioural factors. For example see Magilke, Mayew, Pike (2009).

There are other methodology which does not fit into the methodological categories. The methodologies in these studies vary significantly and include such things as surveys, case studies, field studies, simulations etc.

Some of the skills necessary to become a successful researcher include the following:

i         The ability to know and stay abreast of current work within your field of research.

  1. Staying abreast of the research being performed and the publication of such work is important as you future your own research.

iii.      Discover new questions and problems and contribute to your fellow researchers.


Accounting records are key sources of information and evidence used to prepare, verify and audit the financial statement. Accounting records can take on many forms and they include; vouches, financial statement, invoices, journals, ledgers, bank statement, contract and agreements, stock prices, experiments and mathematical proofs.

Account records can be physical or electronic formats. In some states, accounting bodies set rules on dealing with a financial statements or auditing perspective. Accounting records are important for all types of accounting including, cost Accounting Budgeting, Taxation, Financial
Accounting , Auditing, Management Accounting, System Accounting as well as for different types of organization, corporations, partnerships.


In conclusion, it is natural that evidence as a concepts falls under logic, thus we see that correct reasoning is required for making a good research or inquiry. For this reason all accounting research methodologies (analytical and experimental) base their works on evidences.

Accounting research makes use of the models of research and testing of the hard science along with evidence recorded to conduct it’s research. This evidence may be from accounting records leading accounting records, and journals etc. this evidence plays a major role in accounting research.


Oler, Derek, Mitche, J. Oler and Christopher J. ‘Skousen. 2010 “Characterizing Accounting Research” Accounting Horizons24 (4) 635-670.

J.P Mbat (2015) “Arguments and Evidence in Law “ in U. Etuk, C. Ijiomah (ed) Arguments and Evidence. Uyo: Inela Ventures Publisher ltd. Pg 36-37.

  1. A Akpakpan (2012) “Accounting for Beginners “Introduction to Financial Accounting. Uyo; Abaam Publishing. Co.

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