ABSTRACT: With the advent of computerized data searches, the number of accounting programs that use citation analysis to measure faculty members’ research productivity has increased—often believing that this methodology offers relevant or reliable data for tenure, promotion, teaching load, and merit pay decisions. But such “objective” bases often ignore such factors as which journals to count, the effect of co-authorships, and article quality. Reliance on such citations can also cause “uneven playing fields” within the accounting discipline as well as among accounting and other areas or departments within schools of business.

After reviewing the relevant literature, we present the results of a survey asking accomplished authors about the factors that make them more or less likely to cite an article. Since the process of counting citations focuses on quantity issues (as all citations “count” equally regardless of the citation’s importance to the research article and the reasons for making the citation), we examine some quality issues that lead to authors citing others’ research findings. The survey results indicate that, while citations often are based on the quality of the cited work, other factors less indicative of quality, such as authorship by a friend or colleague and publication in a U.S. journal, help to determine which relevant works are cited or not cited. We also suggest other measures to assess research quality to supplement or replace citation counts.

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