To read this content please select one of the options below:

Developing the relevance of the accounting academy: The importance of drawing from the diversity of research approaches

Jane Broadbent (University of Roehampton, London, UK)
Jeffrey Unerman (Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 1022-2529

Article publication date: 1 October 2011




One of the most important considerations in any research project is a compelling research question, the addressing of which will produce socially and/or economically relevant and beneficial insights based on high‐quality evidence. The purpose of this paper is to explain that each possible research question requires use of the particular research methods that will produce the high‐quality evidence relevant to that question, with the nature of the evidence and the methods required varying from research question to research question.


This discussion paper explores and explains the role and function of interpretive accounting research advocates its adoption.


As the research method needs to be suited to the research question, any restriction imposed on the credible research methods that are considered acceptable severely limits the ability of the accounting academy to serve the needs of society and the economy by addressing the broadest possible range of research questions. From this perspective it is vital for academics to recognize that both positivist/quantitative and interpretive/qualitative methods produce high‐quality credible research evidence.

Research limitations/implications

Any preconceptions within a nation's accounting academy over the unacceptability of either positivist or interpretive research will damage the health and relevance of that academy in the longer term.


The paper argues that both positivist and interpretivist research are needed, drawing on notions of subjectivity, objectivity and inter‐subjectivity in the context of the social construction of both accounting information and research data, and in the context of the socially constructing nature of research evidence.



Broadbent, J. and Unerman, J. (2011), "Developing the relevance of the accounting academy: The importance of drawing from the diversity of research approaches", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 19 No. 1/2, pp. 7-21.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles