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ACC-405: Accounting Theory & Practice (Bonnie Kennedy)

Research guide for Accounting Theory & Practice

Guide Purpose

The purpose of this guide is to help you fulfill the requirements of your research paper assignment. From your assignment:

The main learning objectives for this project are:  (1) for you to obtain an in-depth understanding of the development of new accounting and accounting standards by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB(; (2) for you to learn to write about accounting issues; and (3) for you to learn to discuss your project findings with others clearly and succinctly. To accomplish these goals, you may prepare an analysis of any topic impacting the development of any U.S. or international accounting or auditing standard.

In your analysis you must:

  • identify an area of accounting controversy;
  • identify the arguments for and against any, and all, positions regarding this controversy;
  • analyze those arguments; and
  • reach some independent, professional conclusion about the matter you investigate.

Research Tools and Strategies for this Project

To get background and an overview on your topic, your first stop could be a search in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Books you might find useful include Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History and others. 


Strategy 1: Find your topic's standard. If there is a standard associated with your topic, it can be a key to finding a lot of the information you need on it.

For example, if you are looking for information on stock based compensation, you could search FASB for this phrase. You could Google "stock based compensation fasb" and choose results from, or search for information on stock based compensation. Note that the results are different in each tool though you're doing the same search.

Strategy 2: Collect other ways of referring to your topic. Your search will be broader and more effective if you collect different phrases that relate to your topic, or ways of referring to your topic. As you scan search results or read articles, you will notice that people talking about you topic use other words. For example, for stock based compensation, you might see phrases like share-based payment, share based compensation, or stock options. The most effective search term you may find is an accounting standard codification (ASC) number for your topic. You can take phrases and ASC numbers into different search tools to find articles. 

Strategy 3: Systematically try your search phrases across different search tools. 

Try these search tools:

News: Wall Street JournalNexis Uni

Magazine and Journal Articles: The library's homepage article search which includes databases across disciplines including, EconLitBusiness Source Premier, and other business databasesGoogle Scholar can also be a source for scholarly writing, though you should evaluate what you find there-- it might be written by anyone at a university.

Books might be helpful as well. Try your search phrases in the library's homepage book search or try these Library of Congress Subject Headings:

Strategy 4: Try finding how different organization discuss your topic. Search your topic in each of the below websites. Keep in mind that these organizations might use different words to refer to your topic, so try your topic's standard and the words and phrases you discovered in strategy 2. 

Organization websites:



Search Tool Tricks

Many of our search tools focus on broadly on business. One way to laser in to accounting is to search publications that have "Accounting" in their name. 

Here's how to do this in Nexis Uni:

Here's how to do this in EBSCO databases: