INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH PROJECT
Each group of two students is required to prepare a 6 page, double spaced, word processed research paper. In addition, a bibliography of all resources used will be included with the project.
The research paper will include an in-depth analysis of a particular accounting professional employment environment you have an interest. The analysis will include, but will not be limited to, the following:
- Conduct an interview with a practicing professional, working in the environment in which you have an interest. Discuss the daily demands as a professional.
- Current opportunities and future growth of this environment.
- Current compensation.
- Barriers to entry into this environment.
- Licensing requirements of this environment.
- Research in various web sites and other professional sources. A few for consideration (THE INTERNET GUIDE FOR ACCOUNTANTS)(instructor has a copy for reference):
- AACSB-THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCAITION FOR MANAGEMENT EDUCATION
- AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS (AICPA)
- AMERICAN ACCOUNTING ASSOCIATION (AAA)
- AMERICAN TAXATION ASSOCIATION (ATA)
- CPA VISION PROJECT
- CONTROLLER MAGAZINE
- ELECTRONIC COMMERCE AND ACCOUNTANTS
- FINANCIAL EXECUTIVES INSTITUTE
- FINANCIAL SERVICES
- INFORMATION SERVICES
- INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS
- INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS)
- INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF ACCOUNTANTS
- INTERNATIONAL TAXES
- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ENROLLED AGENTS
- ROBERT HALF AND ACCOUNTEMPS SALARY GUIDE
- SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
- TAX ACCOUNTING
Other reference materials available:
- EFFECTIVE WRITING, A HANDBOOK FOR ACCOUNTANTS by Claire Arevalo May.
- ACCOUNTING & COMMUNICATION, by Hirsch, Anderson, and Gabriel.
The research paper will include a minimum of four web-site and three contemporary publication references, as well as one professional personal interview. Grading of the effort will be based on the following:
Compliance with requirements
Quality of presentation
Guidelines and Helpful Hints
- Organize your paper with the use of headings, i.e. current opportunities in the field, etc. This makes the paper easier to grade for content, and helps to keep you organized and your paper discussion complete (all required topics are included).
- You may include the actual interview (with the questions asked) in the appendix of the paper. This does not substitute for a discussion in the paper of the interview. To me (the grader) these interviews are quite fascinating to read. Include at least two or three pages of interview discussion.
- Plagiarism. This has been a problem in previous quarters. If you are simply lifting material off the web sites, and not explaining things in your own words, it is an automatic zero. Often students fail the class simply by failing to provide cites and references for their work. If you are using something that someone else said, you must give them credit for it through a reference. Cal Poly also has an honor policy. You can be dismissed from school and brought up on charges of plagiarism by the University Legal Counsel. Even if you struggle with the writing, if you do it yourself you will get a better grade than a zero.
- Use grammar check and spell check in your computer. Add these settings and use it for everything you write. Use the computer to help you.
- Paragraph and paper development. The first sentence of a paragraph should be a broad introductory sentence for the rest of the paragraph. The last sentence should be the most specific. Each paragraph goes from most general to most specific material. One paragraph should lead into the next one. The overall paper also should be written from most general to most specific material. This leads English professors to teach the T–structure for organizing a paper.
- Introduction and conclusion. Many many students lose points by omitting a conclusion, that summarizes the paper’s main points, and by giving me “an over the river and through the woods” introduction that wanders around and says nothing. In the introduction tell the reader exactly what you intend to say and how you are going to go about it. For example, in this paper I am going to discuss………. My paper has the following sections: xxxxxx, xxxx, xxxxx. I will begin with…….Tell me what is coming before it does. Tell me what you intend to do, to accomplish, in this paper.
- Read your paper aloud. Often this simple task helps you detect problems that are not found by reading silently.
- Do not be afraid to let me hear your words—in fact I WANT to hear them. Often students will hide behind a proliferation of quotes, sometimes the entire paper is one long quote. These papers receive a grade of zero because the student has not tried to write on their own, they are merely including other people’s writing in their paper.
- Do not be afraid to go to the tutors in the Writing Center for help. These folks are very nice.
- Add your research to what your interviewee tells you.
- If you interview a person who is not in your area of research, this weakens your paper. The research should be in the same professional area as the person that you interview.
- Shortcuts are no good. 1 ½ inch margins, 2 ½ line spacing, long cites, long sections of text that you did not write, unexplained blank space—are all a good way to get a zero on the writing assignment. They communicate to me that you were really not that “in to the assignment” and did not put much time into it. Since you will competing against classmates who are quite serious and put the time in—a paper with these indications is usually not read and just assigned zero points.
- Proofreading, or the lack of it does affect the grade.
- How do I grade the paper? First, I read page 1. I look to see that all the required sections are included in the paper. I look at the referencing and the conclusion. I read the entire paper to determine coverage of required content and the writing style. The more corrections I make while reading, the lower the grade gets. If it is really bad, I may stop reading. I look to see how many of the references deal with the specialty area that the student is investigating. In general, I try to determine how much work the student put into the paper.
- I have found that you pretty much get out of life what you put into it, and this assignment is no different. A good thorough interview can help you plan your accounting career tremendously.
Sample Questions to Ask Your Interviewee
- What prompted you to become an accountant?
- What certification and/or degrees do you have that you found useful to enhance your career?
- What are some of the daily demands the field presents?
- What are some daily challenges that the field presents? Other challenges?
- What are some current opportunities that you see in the field?
- What are some of the future growth opportunities of this environment?
- Since the Enron scandal, in your opinion, what are some positive and negative things that have come out of this event?
- What is the current compensation for a recent graduate entering the field?
- Do you see any barriers to entry in this environment?
- What are the basic as well as complex licensing requirements in this field?
- Any additional comments are welcome.
These questions are just a simple starting point. Feel free to ask other questions of your interviewee. What do you most enjoy about your job? Etc.
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