Accadamic writing for accounting and finace students


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Accadamic writing for accounting and finace students

  1. 1. 1 A Lecture note on Writing in Accounting and Finance Course: Seminar in Accounting and Finance The Process of Writing a Paper When you are writing your first academic papers, you often focus on the conventions of the paper and the writing itself. These conventions may seem strict, but it is important to take them seriously. A scientist must know the rules of academic writing, and be able to write text that is easy to read. Only then can you concentrate on what is most important – solving the research problem. Writing is, to a high degree, a means of processing thoughts. A paper does not write itself linearly from introduction to conclusion. Some sections of the paper need more writing than others. Usually, you can’t draw your conclusions until you have completed the research itself. There is no need to feel frightened even when you notice that you have written pages of text that seem irrelevant. Even if you can’t use the text for the paper, it is likely that writing it was necessary to help organize your thoughts. Drawing up a paper is research, and everyone with a Master of Science degree should have the basic skills necessary for conducting research. Research is about defining a problem, looking for and analyzing relevant data, possibly about making empirical observations, and, first and foremost, about drawing relevant conclusions. Papers must be written in good English. The sentences should be explicit and relatively short. If you are not sure about spelling or grammar, go over the rules of the language. Language mistakes or illegibility jeopardize the credibility of the entire paper. When you use an abbreviation for the first time, you must introduce it to the reader. If the abbreviation is not commonly known or established, instead of introducing it you have to define it appropriately, using references. All units must be SI units.
  2. 2. 2 Choosing a Topic When you are choosing a topic, start with your own experiences and interests. Practical knowledge of a topic will help you understand the phenomenon, and interpret and apply the results. The choice is also influenced by the type and level of the paper. The topic of a seminar paper can be picked rather freely, as long as the supervisor of the work thinks it suitable. The topic of a thesis is influenced, among other things, by the needs of a company or individual that you are writing it for. The topic you choose at the beginning of your research may not be the final title of the paper. Often the topic becomes more and more defined and specific during the process of research. It’s rarely a good idea to change the topic completely, because this means you have to do a lot of the work all over again. At the point when the work is nearly finished, most researchers have to carefully compare the title with the contents and goals of the paper and, if necessary, redefine it. The title has to be brief and unambiguous, and it has to be in accordance with the contents (study topic and locality). If necessary, subheadings can be used to specify the topic. Getting to Know and Interpreting Sources After you have chosen a preliminary topic, start getting to know sources that deal with the subject matter. You should start with the latest books and articles. Use their reference lists or bibliographies to track the development of the topic back in time, and increase your knowledge of it. At this point, you should get to know plenty of material, but scan read it only. Try to find your own point of view and approach, and discover the previous research that is closely connected to them. At the same time you will become familiar with research into the subject matter and areas related to it. There is no need to be overly critical about the sources at this point, because you haven’t set your actual goals yet. As you familiarize yourself with the source material, your knowledge keeps growing and it becomes easier to define the research problem, set the goals and limit the topic. At the same time, your ability to understand the sources improves. In order to comprehend the context of your study you have to become familiar with several different sources.
  3. 3. 3 As your understanding increases, you frequently find that the topic of your research is a very wide field of problems. You should then redefine the topic and the goals of the research to suit the extent of the paper. A badly defined topic can easily lead to superficial treatment of the subject. A clearly defined topic is easier to control and enables you to go into the matter in sufficient detail. Sources often conflict with one another. In other words, different scholars and writers support different views. If they don’t, you probably haven’t acquired enough source material. If you present different definitions and claims from different sources you show a maturity of thought that is necessary for writing academic papers. If the paper includes terminology or concepts that haven’t established themselves in the discipline, you must define them. You should also do this with any words that aren’t established vocabulary. The most important terms of the paper must be defined through reference to principal sources in the discipline. You will typically find that the same term is defined differently in different sources. If the term is central to the paper, it is useful to present various alternatives. In the end you will find yourself using one of them or giving your own definition. In both cases you must give the reasons for your choice. The source books should come from different geographical regions. If the topic is new and you failed to get related literature you have to look at the wider aspects of the topic. While you are taking concept and definitions it is very essential to understand the context the paper is written. Articles from professional and scientific journals or magazines give your research topicality and show you have practical understanding of it, too. Conference publications, on the other hand, aren’t that far from scientific articles, and it isn’t always easy to distinguish between the two. Some of them represent solid scientific research, while others are mainly descriptions of incomplete research processes. You can and should use the Internet when you are looking for sources. Actual web pages aren’t suitable sources, usually, but search engines and portals will help you get hold of scientific articles, as well as consultation and other commercial reports. You should, however, be particularly careful of the latter.
  4. 4. 4 Despite the source, be critical of it. Always examine the reliability of the information the source provides. Use multiple sources, in different ways. Basic literature that has become classic in the discipline brings credibility and depth to your research, scientific articles give you the chance to familiarize yourself with the current state of research, and professional and other magazines make the object of study seem more tangible. Basic textbooks are not sufficient principal sources The other possible sources are Master’s thesis and PhD desertions. Concerning the acceptability the PHD paper pass through a rigor scientific work and evaluation so can be used as a source. Authorities are note precise on master’s thesis they can be used a caution about the acceptability. If you are satisfied on the scientific procedure it is possible to use and at the same time you have to acknowledge any flow and problem that other student my committed. In general it is possible o say that you shouldn’t base your work on some ones thesis. Acquiring Source Material When you are looking for and choosing source material, don’t just make use of the sources that you agree with. On the contrary, measure the value of a source in how well founded and to the point its ideas are. You should look at the ideas critically, but without prejudice. If you don’t have an open, yet critical attitude towards a source, you will easily lose objectivity and your work may suffer. There are many ways to look for and acquire source material. In addition to the databases in your university library, you can find information easily and effectively by using the databases of other scientific libraries, national databases, CD-ROMs, portals, web pages and data banks. The various electronic data source links to our library website, library of other universities, and public libraries in your locality can be used as sources of materials. Defining the Research Problem The starting point of research is always the research problem that you want to solve. It is often best to pose the problem in the form of a question. There are frequently more questions than one related to an area of study and, usually, it isn’t possible to solve all of them in one paper. After you have gotten to know the source material thoroughly enough, you’ll be able to define a
  5. 5. 5 particular research problem and a research question. Then you can also choose the point of view of your research. For instance:  Research problem: Effectiveness of Postgraduate Accounting Internship  Research question: Is Postgraduate Accounting Internship Effective?  Point of view: The point of view of Community Based Business college in Ethiopia The research problem can be divided into sub-problems. This way, when you solve the sub- problems, you solve the actual research problem, too. For instance:  Sub-problem 1: involvement of the stakeholders in program  Sub-problem 2: clarity of the program  Sub-problem 3: Expectation of students  Sub-Problem 4: commitment of students  Sub-problem 4: commitment of the university  Sub-Problem 5: Attitude of Host organization  Sub-problem 5: characteristics of students You could just as well pose the sub-problems as questions. The aim of the research is, of course, to solve the actual research problem, or, in other words, answer the research question. In the paper the research problem is often worded as a goal: The main goal of the research is to find out whether postgraduate business internship program in community based college in Ethiopia is effective. Component aims are as follows: the researches will look at whether the programs are properly designed in a way that the values of internship are realized. it will also asses the clarity of the program to all stakeholders and the expectation, attitude and commitment of students, university and host organization. Further the study will also investigate which characteristics of the intern contribute to effectiveness of accounting internship.
  6. 6. 6 Setting the goals of the research is closely connected to picking the title. You should avoid very long titles – a title doesn’t have to include everything. In the previous example the title A good title gives you the central content of the paper in a few words. In most cases the title is redefined along the process of research. It is important to make sure that the title, the goals and the content of the research are in line with one another. The title should not have abbreviations in it. Choosing the Approach and the Method The choice of approach depends, at least, on the research problem /objective, type of results you seek, the level of knowledge at the start of the research and the quality of the research material available. Analyzing the Results and Making Conclusions Analyses the data according to the study framework and present the result Interpreted the result or compare with other studies in the discussions/discussions and conclusion part Conclude the paper by presenting how it is founded and the basic research questions answered Honestly indicate the limitations About Seminar Papers In the seminar course you become familiar with describing and analyzing different business life phenomena or problems. The aim of the course is to broaden your understanding of your major subject through independent work and give basic skills for scientific research and writing. The course also prepares you for your thesis. The concrete outcome of the seminar is the seminar paper. It has all the structural parts of a scientific paper. The course gives practice in defining and limiting research problems, finding and analyzing relevant information, possibly in making empirical observations and in making relevant conclusions. Disciplined writing and composing a systematic research report are the key elements of the course.
  7. 7. 7 In the seminar course you will get to know not only the subject matter of your paper but other students’ seminar papers, too. You will also act as an opponent and as chairperson of the seminar. An opponent’s job is to give constructive criticism of another student’s paper and its presentation. A chairperson’s most important task is to make sure the schedule holds and there is time for everything that needs to be discussed For a lot of students, a seminar paper is their first relatively large writing project. A student will have to learn the basics of scientific writing from referencing to carefully choosing terminology. Presenting your paper and accepting criticism from the group is part of the course, too. Sometimes the critique is harsh. There may be errors in your paper that you simply haven’t come to think of. You should learn from your mistakes and avoid making the same ones in your thesis, for instanc The Structure of a Seminar Paper A seminar paper isn’t as extensive as a thesis. The problem definition, theoretical framework, empirical section and conclusions you must make are a lot more limited. A seminar paper does, however, have all the parts of a scientific paper Cover Page Abstract Preface Table of Contents Abbreviations and Sign 1. Introduction 2. Material and Methods 3. Theoretical Framework incl. Previous Research 4. New research/Results and Their Evaluation 5. Conclusion 6. List of References 7. Appendices
  8. 8. 8 Number the pages in the normal way, with Roman numbers from abstract to abbreviation sand signs. After that use Arabic numbers until the end of the list of references. Number the appendices, as instructed in this guide. The extent of a seminar paper is around 12- 15 pages, and these pages don’t include the list of references, or pages that don’t take page numbers, such as the table of contents, the appendices etc. The structure of A Thesis/Desertion Report 1. Introduction Research report is the written description of research providing information about its aim and objectives, scope, limitation, methodologies, source of information used, equipment, findings and all such necessary information. Research reporting is one of the essential parts of research undertaking for the fact that the ultimate purpose of every research is communication of research result to those who actually need it. An objective of organizing a research report is to allow people to read your work selectively. Research reporting is therefore marketing your research so that your findings get acceptance and put your foot prints in the body of knowledge where we identify ourselves. As succinctly pointed out by C.R Kuatori, “[t]he purpose of research is not well served unless the findings are made known to others.” This and the above arguments, therefore, show that effective research report writing skill is paramount importance to the researchers. As stated on some books effective research reporting is partly an art and one can be a good writer only through practice. It is suggested that a through reading of previous researches and writing practice make a person a good writer. In writing a research report it essential to know objective, scope and acceptable techniques of writing. The objective could be
  9. 9. 9 1.1.Essentials of Good Report 1. Style The researcher must ensure that the style adopted in the report is easy to read and understand. This means. This means that the researcher must ensure that the sentences are succinct, languages used are simple and jargons are avoided, writings are grammatically correct, coherent. 2. Layout A good layout aids the reader to follow the report intention and facilitate communication process. The research report should be classified into identifiable chapters, topics and subtopics that are sequentially numbered. 3. Accuracy The researcher must be sure that whatever written in the report is factually accurate. This is mainly not to mislead, misinform and unfairly persuade readers. Hence the researcher must support his/her arguments by authoritative sources and citation. S/he must also check and recheck whether statistical and mathematical models and computations are correct and all interpretations are made on the basis of appropriate data and analyzed using pre-tested models, techniques and formulas. 4. Clarity The researcher need to read and revise the paper as well as seek others to read and comment the paper to enhance clarity. 5. Objectivity The researcher must be objective and the report needs to be free from any sort of gender, racial and other form of discrimination 6. Use illustration to improve the presentation of you report Sometimes illustration can make reading and understanding very easy. Hence the researcher it is advisable to employee, tables, graphs, charts and figures. Nevertheless, only relevant and clear illustration that can express more than words can add to the quality of the paper.
  10. 10. 10 2. Steps in writing Research Report According to C.R Kothari(2004) research report are the product of slow painstaking, accurate inductive work. The usual steps in research report writing are summarized as follows: i. Logical analysis of the subject matter: It is the first step which is primarily concerned with the development of a subject. There are two ways in which to develop a subject (a) logically and (b) chronologically. The logical development is made on the basis of mental connections and associations between the one thing and another by means of analysis. Logical treatment often consists in developing the material from the simple possible to the most complex structures. Chronological development is based on a connection or sequence in time or occurrence. The directions for doing or making something usually follow the chronological order. ii. Preparation of the final outline Outlines are the framework upon which long written works are constructed they are an aid to the logical organization of the material and a reminder of the points to be stressed in the report.” iii. Preparation of the rough draft The researcher now sits to write down what he has done in the context of his research study. The research is supposed to write what has been done; the strategies and procedures followed to allow readers accept the finding of the study. iv. Rewriting and polishing of the rough draft This most important, but difficult aspect of report writing. The work performed at this stage changes the research from mediocre to quality peace of written document. At this stage usually the researcher may seek assistance of language experts and friends with adequate technical and linguistic ability in order to reduce all possible technical and linguistic problems which may deter the quality of the research report. v. Preparation of the final bibliography Preparing the list of books, journals, desertion and thesis that are used the research must be properly arranged. At this phase the researcher need to consult his guide or the university research guideline to follow the accepted norm of citation and referencing style and consistently apply the same.
  11. 11. 11 vi. Writing the final draft This is the last step in which the researcher is required to check and recheck the report for clarity, objectivity and completes. Before the final copy publication and submission the researcher must ensure that all relevant parts, including the required approval, are in place. 3. Order of Contents in Research Report 3.1. Preliminary Pages The introductory page doesn’t constitute the write-up of the research work done; rather it is just the index of the report and usually numbered by a roman number to differentiate it from the main body of the paper. This part of the report contains the title page, literary work declaration, abstract and acknowledgements. Then there should be table of contents followed by list of tables, graphs, charts and abbreviation used, but not fully explained in the body of the report. 3.1.1. The Title Page The title page contains the title of the research work, name of the author, date, and names of any sponsors of the research. The title page must be informative and indicate what the research report is all about, why it has been done, by whom, when and where, the sponsor. Example: Title of Research: Performance measurement system in Indian banking Sector - A thesis presented to the faculty of business studies of the Punjabi University for partial fulfillment of the requirement of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Commerce - Author/Student name: Sanjeew Kumar - Department and institution: Department of commerce, Punjabi university Patiala - Completion time: October,2010 3.1.2. Original Literary Work Declaration This part is compulsory in most academic institutions to ensure that the research work is the original undertaking of the student and contains original contribution to the body of knowledge.
  12. 12. 12 Further the student and the guide are also expected that the work of others is properly acknowledging so to protect plagiarism. In case of Punjabi University, the PhD desertion report so far reviewed contains the following two contents under this part. 1. Certificate: issued by the guide ascertaining that the work belongs to the student and it is worth considering for PhD/M.Phil 2. Declaration: issued by the student ensuring that the work is original and exclusively attributes to the student. This page should be signed by the student, guide and the supervisor 3.1.3. Abstract/Executives summary Today, many of the research reports are hosted over institutional repositories. To do so an abstract or summary is very much felt. Considering this, an abstract or summary of the whole research findings and recommendations should be enclosed in the research report itself. The abstract or summary should cover the aim of the research, the methods employed, the outcome of the research, and any theoretical implications. A two hundred to three hundred words are enough to write an abstract. In some institutions executive summary may be required instead of an abstract. In this case, the researcher can use two to five pages to present the summary of the research in a better detail than an abstract. 3.1.4. Acknowledge The researcher may acknowledge the services or guidance of certain individuals, organizations on which success of the research project has been dependent on the acknowledgement page. 3.1.5. Table of contents Table of content refers to list major topics and sub topics along with the page numbers where they are found in the body of the paper. It is usually followed by list of tables, graphs, charts and abbreviations that help readers of the report to swiftly go through the paper. 3.2. 2. Main Text The main text of the research report could be arranged in various ways depending upon the norm of the particular institution and/or field of specialization. Despite difference across disciplines
  13. 13. 13 and institutions, the agreed upon content of the text must include introduction, methodology, results, and discussion (IRMD). The most common arrangement of a main text in M.Phil. or Ph.D. thesis report carries introduction, review of related literatures, methodology, result and discussion, conclusion and recommendation as a separate chapter. Introduction Introduction should mention the background of the topic (from, where the research problem emerges), aim and objective of the research work, and an explanation of the methodology adopted in accomplishing the research. However C.R Kothari suggest inclusion of methodology in introductory, chapter most researchers prefer to have a separate chapter of research methodology in the main text. There should be a steady flow of ideas with the introduction section and the research documentation as a whole. For example The Thesis selected for practical example contains the following 5 sub topics under the introduction covering 20 pages out of a total of 250 pages. The introductory chapter provides the background of the paper and brief overview of what has been done, why and how. Review of Related Literatures The review of literature is not only a summary or series of annotation or description of others work, rather it is a critical judgment on others work. The researcher should judge the literature like a judge appraising the argument of a lawyer making a case and should conclude it by making a note of summing up. The result of the hard working, reading, notes taking and analysis of others work will give to fruitful results in the form of literature review. The literature review can be arranged according to the chronological order as well as for example under the title “Performance Measurement System in Indian Banking System”, include the following headings of literature review. 3.1. Studies Related to Business performance of Indian banks 3.2. Studies Related CAMEL framework 3.3. Studies related to Performance Measurement System Balanced Scorecard
  14. 14. 14 3.2.3. Research Methodology/Research Design/Materials and Methods Research design and methodology is usually reported as third chapter. Off course there are also universities that guide their students to include research methodology as sub topic of chapter one (Introduction). This chapter has to show a well-studied/thought research design and methodologies with adequate level of detail to permit subsequent evaluation, repeatability and continuation of knowledge building process. In the practical Example case this chapter contains the following sub- parts: 1. Research Methodology: - States objective - Next to this the procedures followed from the development of research idea to formulation of study framework were briefly explained. 2. Sample and Sample Design - States the universe of the study - The sample procedure - Sample size - List of specific banks selected for the study purpose - Justification for sample selection 3. Hypothesis of the study/Theoretical/conceptual Framework/ study variables 4. Data type, Source of Data and Method of data collection 5. Method of data analysis 6. Limitation of the study 3.2.4. Results and Discussions This section shows the results of the data analysis the findings and discussion made in light of the study framework and previous studies. In some institutions the result and discussions may be presented as a two separate sections in which the formers contains the results of the data analysis whereas the later chapter devotes to discussion of the finding and implication to be drawn.
  15. 15. 15 Results of the data analysis should be presented in logical sequence and broken down into identifiable sections. One can use table, graphs and charts regarding primary data collection in this chapter. In data analysis it would be better if the researcher uses the whole numbers instead of percentage, using percentage will lose the actual power of the data. Whenever the research scholar provides arguments, it should always be supported by data gathered. The tables/graphs and narrative descriptions need to be treated as a complementary to each other. In the context of a PhD dissertation report the results and discussion part becomes at least two chapters. For example, a PhD desertion under the title, “Performance Management System of Commercial Banking System in India could have a result and discussion organized in the following three chapters: Chapter 4: Indian banking Sector’s Performance in the Post Liberalization Period “This chapter Vizualizes the impact of economic liberalization on the performance of Indian banking sector during the last decade. The impact of banking sector reforms on the Indian banking sector has also been examined.”(p.20) Chapter 5: Performance Management System in Indian banking Sector: Perspectives The report in this chapter analyzed the performance of the selected banks using existing framework on the basis of primary data collected from managements of sleeted banks at different level. Chapter 6: Performance Measurement of Indian banking sector in CAMEL framework 3.2.5. Summary Conclusion and Suggestions Towards the end of the main text, the researcher should again put down the results of his / her research clearly and precisely. In this chapter nothing new should be introduced. Its whole content should be based on the content of the preceding chapters. In this chapter research scholars justify whether the hypothesis that has been adopted proved or not or the research questions are answered or not, methodology used is alright or not, mention
  16. 16. 16 the problems encountered and lastly, should point out the researcher scholars own contribution to the world of knowledge or what the readers will benefit from the current research work. Ideas for further research should also be mentioned including the skill, attitude, capabilities, and qualities to conduct such type of research work. Possible recommendation for other research workers working on the same line should be stated. What existing practices should be revised in the light of the current research, and so on should be made statement wise in the recommendations pages. Example: A PhD desertion reviewed as a practical example in this assignment devotes the 7th chapter (Chapter 7: Summary Conclusion and Suggestions) for a literature. Review the chapter was titled in a way that it reflects the content. The main points addressed in this final chapter of the main body include the following: - summary of the whole discussions - Conclusions drown - Highlights of the suggestions emerged from the study - Provides the implications of the study for the bank management, policy-makers and government - Scope for further research 2.3. End Matters 2.3.1. Bibliography/References The bibliography is the list of books, journal articles, desertions, thesis, conference paper and other published and unpublished materials that the researcher used in the literature review and other section of the study. The bibliography and referencing style could vary from institution to institutions across disciplines. In social sciences the APA style is most common, while in business studies the Harvard referencing style is mostly employed. There are also other referencing styles, hence the research scholar is supposed consult his guide or university guideline with respect to referencing and bibliography. Alternatively a research scholar “[…] shall follow the style of citation and
  17. 17. 17 style of listing in one of the standard journals in the subject area consistently throughout paper.”(IIT Bombay, 2009) 3.2.2. Appendices The appendices may include relevant aspects of technical data such as - Questionnaire - Interview schedules - Observation check lists - Statistical and mathematical formula - Results of computer/software analysis 4. Mechanics of Writing Research Report It is expected that the report completed for the course is original for the class and completed solely by the researcher. It is unethical to prepare a report that is the same, or basically similar, to a report completed for another purpose. Therefore research scholars are required to acknowledge the work of other and follow appropriate citations and referencing style and consider the university research code of conduct with at most personal and professional integrity. The research report must be legible and word processed; appropriate margins and other formatting should follow the university research guideline (if any) or generally accepted formats in similar schools or universities. The report must also adhere to appropriate rules of grammar, sentence structure, transitions between paragraphs, etc. Usually students are required to seek assistance of friends, guides, others with better skills of the research report. In case of PhD research some universities advise students to get the service of professional language editors before final submission of a paper. Finally, before submission of the research report to the competent authority, the research scholar should check and recheck it for several times for errors and omission, consistency and so on.
  18. 18. 18 5. Oral Presentation Usually oral presentation of research report follows completion and submission of research report. The researcher may report finding to the research evaluation board/committee, the scientific community in owns field of specialization or to the other stakeholder. Oral Presentation should be carefully prepared keeping the audience in mind. A good presentation does not mean a lengthy presentation rather a concise one, which briefly presents all the relevant aspects. Carefully selected visual aids such as graphs, tables, charts, maps etc. help presentation. However, too many visual aids, particularly statistical tables, could often be boring and may not serve any purpose. During oral presentation, people may seek clarification. Hence the speaker must be patient and should not show signs of anger or frustration. He or she should be natural, establish eye contact with the audience, and interact with them. Body language and descriptive gestures are also quite useful. References Arthur Dirks (na), Formal research and Academic Writing, [online] available at, last accessed November 5, 2013 Australian College of Commerce and Management.(na), Guide to Report Writing, Report Writing Guide v9-06.doc C.R Kothari. (2004), Research Methodology (Methods and Techniques), 2nd ed., New Age International Publisher, Ltd. New Delhi Coline Fisher (2007) Researching and Writing a Dissertation: A Guide for Business Students, 2nd ed, Pearson Education Limited, England Formats of research report,
  19. 19. 19 ort/reportform.html Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Academic Office. (2009), Guidelines for Preparation of Theses/Dissertations/Reports for PH.D./M.TECH./ M.PHIL. / M.DES. / M.S./DIIT/B.TECH./ DUAL DEGREE (B.TECH. + M .TECH.) /M.SC. Students, Institute of Graduate Studies of Malaysia University. (2010), Guide for the Preparation of Research Reports, Desertions and Thesis, Kuala Lampur Perspectives in social science research available @ Paper.php Sanjeew Kumar (2010), Performance Measurement System in Indian Banking Sector, [Unpublished] PhD Desertion presented to the faculty of business studies of the Punjabi University for partial fulfillment of the requirement of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Commerce Uni Lerning, (2013), Research Report writing, University of Excess, Department of Lifelong Learning: Study Skills Series, (2013). Referencing the Harvard System, [online] available at, last accessed at November 10, 2013