Guide to Intermediate Accounting Research, 2e

by Collins

ISBN: 978-1-61853-316-6 | Copyright 2020

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Welcome to Guide to Intermediate Accounting Accounting Research, Second Edition!

Increasingly, accounting research and communication skills are being regarded as fundamental to success in our profession.
Professionals who excel in these areas will likely experience a distinct competitive advantage relative to their peers. At the same time, in today’s highly regulated business climate, the consequences of inadequately researching and documenting accounting judgments can be severe (e.g., PCAOB or SEC enforcement actions). Recognizing the importance of research skills, research simulations are now a key component of the national CPA exam. What’s needed is a high-quality guide that is hands-on and teaches students these important skills.
In this guide, students will learn to confidently address and communicate accounting research issues, from start to finish. Students will not only take away the ability to identify the accounting problem (the “researchable question”), but will gain experience locating and applying guidance within the FASB Codification. In learning to use the Codification, students will have the opportunity to apply guidance to a variety of actual accounting topics.
Recognizing that students cannot learn to research simply by reading about research, the guide offers students numerous opportunities to actively apply what they have learned.

Target Audience

The Guide to Intermediate Accounting Research is intended to serve as a supplement in intermediate accounting courses. Collins’ practical examples and exercises will challenge students to move beyond the application of accounting standards to critically thinking about and applying accounting issues.

FASB Codification Focus

Use of the FASB Codification as the key research tool, including screenshots and primary source excerpts from the Codification, will give students an understanding of how research applies to the analysis of actual accounting issues and practical knowledge of how to use FASB guidance in their research efforts.

Provides Guidance on How to Effectively Search

Left to their own devices, students often default to using a “search” function in the Codification. This text teaches students to utilize a “browse” approach, including teaching the organization of accounting guidance, that will result in much more effective searches.  No other text teaches students this method for efficiently searching accounting guidance.

Communication Strategies and Technical Writing Fundamentals

Research and communication techniques are presented in the context of actual technical issues, giving students extensive exposure to the accounting literature while learning professional research and writing skills. 

Exercises and Case Study Questions

At the end of each chapter, there are research exercises, as well as case study questions that provide students the opportunity to think critically about more involved, open-ended accounting issues.  Students will be required to identify the researchable question, research the issue, and practice technical writing skills in their responses.

Revised Code

Coverage of the AICPA’s revised Code of Conduct.

New Standards

Includes strategies for navigating the revised revenue and lease topics and new assignments requiring students to research and interpret the new standards and to document and communicate their findings.


Presents updated screenshots of the Codification featuring the latest standards.  

Updated Detailed Research Example

The author presents a real research question involving baseball stadium concession sales (Lease? Revenues?) and integrates it throughout chapters 3 and 4. Students will follow this real world example through the research process culminating in a new chapter-end sample memo.

Case Studies

The text will include new, current and real-world case studies of varying difficulty level – including cases building upon the stadium example. Cases will place increased emphasis upon the use of professional judgment.

Expand/Collapse All
Foreword (pg. iii)
About the Authors (pg. iv)
Preface (pg. v)
Brief Table of Contents (pg. x)
Contents (pg. xi)
Chapter 1 The FASB Codification: Introduction and Search Strategies (pg. 2)
Organization of This Chapter (pg. 3)
What is the FASB Codification? (pg. 4)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.1 (pg. 5)
What Sources of Guidance Were Used to Populate the Codification? (pg. 5)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.2 (pg. 6)
How Is the Codification Updated? (pg. 6)
How is Information Organized Within the Codification? (pg. 7)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.3 (pg. 8)
Areas and Topics (pg. 8)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.4 (pg. 9)
Subtopics (pg. 10)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.5 (pg. 10)
Sections (pg. 10)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.6 (pg. 15)
Subsections and Paragraphs (pg. 15)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.7 (pg. 16)
Tips for Performing Browse Searches (pg. 17)
Join All Sections (pg. 17)
Navigating a Subtopic, Considering All Areas of “Required Reading” (pg. 18)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.8 (pg. 20)
Other Search Methods (pg. 21)
Keyword Searches (pg. 21)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.9 (pg. 24)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.10 (pg. 25)
Search by ASC Reference Number (pg. 25)
Cross Reference Tab (pg. 26)
Master Glossary (pg. 26)
Pending Content and Effective Dates (pg. 27)
What Is “Pending Content”? (pg. 27)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.11 (pg. 27)
Understanding Effective Dates (pg. 28)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.12 (pg. 28)
Private Company Accounting Alternatives in the Codification (pg. 29)
Now [ YOU ] Try 1.13 (pg. 29)
Chapter Summary (pg. 29)
Review Questions (pg. 29)
Exercises (pg. 31)
Case Study Questions (pg. 32)
Chapter 2 The Research Process (pg. 36)
Why Use A Research Process? (pg. 38)
The Accounting Research Process (pg. 38)
Pre-Step: Understand the Business (Industry) (pg. 39)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.1 (pg. 41)
Step 1: Understand the Facts/Background of the Transaction (pg. 41)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.2 (pg. 42)
Step 2: Define the Problem. That Is, Identify the “Researchable Question.” (pg. 43)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.3 (pg. 44)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.4 (pg. 44)
Step 3: Stop and Think: What Accounting Treatment Will Likely Be Appropriate? (pg. 44)
Step 4: Search Potentially Relevant Sources of Guidance, Copying Any Relevant Guidance into a Word (pg. 45)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.5 (pg. 45)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.6 (pg. 46)
Step 5: Analyze Alternatives, Documenting Your Consideration of Each (pg. 47)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.7 (pg. 47)
Step 6: Justify and Document Your Conclusion (pg. 49)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.8 (pg. 49)
Judgment And Decision Making-A Brief Introduction (pg. 49)
Common Biases (pg. 50)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.9 (pg. 51)
How Do You Overcome These Biases? (To Reach a Sound Decision?) (pg. 51)
Learn from Your Mistakes (and Successes!) (pg. 52)
Now [ YOU ] Try 2.10 (pg. 52)
Chapter Summary (pg. 52)
Review Questions (pg. 53)
Exercises (pg. 53)
Case Study Questions (pg. 55)
Additional References (pg. 57)
Chapter 3 Creating Effective Documentation (pg. 58)
Documentation Is Integral to Accounting Research (pg. 60)
Communicating Accounting Research (pg. 61)
Emailing the Results of Research Questions (pg. 61)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.1 (pg. 63)
Drafting an Accounting Issues Memorandum (pg. 65)
Facts (pg. 66)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.2 (pg. 67)
Issue(s) (pg. 68)
Analysis (pg. 68)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.3 (pg. 71)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.4 (pg. 72)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.5 (pg. 73)
Conclusion (pg. 73)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.6 (pg. 74)
Financial Statement and Disclosure Impacts (pg. 75)
Reread Your Work Before Submitting (and what to look for) (pg. 75)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.7 (pg. 76)
Properly Referencing Accounting Guidance (pg. 76)
How Do I Reference a Passage from the Codification? (pg. 76)
Now [ YOU ] Try 3.8 (pg. 77)
Should I Ever Use Footnotes in Professional Memos? (pg. 77)
When Should I Use Quotation Marks? (pg. 78)
When Is It Appropriate to Alter an Excerpt from the Guidance? (pg. 78)
When Is It Appropriate to Use Ellipses? (pg. 79)
Style Tips for Professional Communication (pg. 80)
Use Proper Voice in Your Memos (pg. 80)
Keep Your Language Neutral (Avoid Strong Words) (pg. 80)
Get the Grammar Right (pg. 81)
Getting Feedback on Your Writing (pg. 82)
Chapter 3 Appendix (pg. 83)
Sample Accounting Issues Memo (pg. 83)
Chapter Summary (pg. 87)
Review Questions (pg. 87)
Exercises (pg. 88)
Case Study Questions (pg. 90)
Index (pg. 92)
Shelby Collins

Shelby Collins

Shelby Collins currently works as a consultant assisting companies with adoption of the new FASB revenue and lease accounting standards. Prior to this role, she taught the Masters-level accounting and auditing research course at the University at Buffalo School of Management from 2011 through 2016.

Shelby’s entire career has focused specifically on performing and communicating technical accounting research, in a diversity of settings. Immediately after receiving her Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees in Accountancy from the University of Georgia, Shelby went on to serve as a postgraduate technical assistant at the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). From there, Shelby went on to work in KPMG’s Accounting Advisory Services group, then in the Accounting Policy and Research group at Exelon Corporation in Chicago. In these roles, Shelby focused on the application of technical accounting guidance to complex and judgmental transactions.

While at the University at Buffalo, finding no textbook on the market that offered a hands-on, active learning approach to accounting research, she chose to create her own course materials including handouts, lecture slides, and case studies. Many of these materials have been incorporated into this book and its supplements.

Few professionals have the opportunity to hit the ground running with a career in research; accountants often get their first shot at higher-level research projects after several years on the job. Shelby's career is unique in that she started researching before she even had the depth of knowledge afforded by several years of experience. She quickly achieved that depth of knowledge through her work as a researcher. She therefore understands how to convey complex accounting concepts alongside the basic skills necessary for success in research, in a language that beginning researchers can understand. Her enthusiasm for teaching will serve as an asset to students utilizing this book.

Last Updated: Feb 28 2020

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