Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Tom Selling, author of The Accounting Onion

Tom Selling, author of the The Accounting Onion, has just published a new post, “Why Do Accounting Academics Blog Less Than Other Academics?” [October 12, 2011]

There is a very select list of bloggers who I view as must reads.  Tom is on that list.  He is both an excellent writer and an insightful commentator.  He also is a retired professor.

The organizational structure of his post is very interesting.  I can’t ever recall Tom sharing details of his speaking engagements, but he does today.  He starts his post by disclosing that he will be the keynote speaker to an accounting academic conference (Northeast Section, American Accounting Association) on Friday, October 28, 2011.  He has been asked to speak on IFRS issues, a subject he has blogged on dozens of times in recent years.  He’s the only blogger who has written more frequently on the subject than I.

In other words, the organizers of an accounting academic conference have decided to give top billing to a blogger.  Yet, accounting academics shun the act of blogging for themselves?  Why is that?


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It is late March and windy in Chicago.  It must be that I’m attending the annual conference for MBAA International at the historic Drake Hotel.

The MBAA conference annual draws about 800 academics from the areas of finance, accounting, international business, marketing, management, legal studies, information systems, economics, operations management and entrepreneurship, case research, and BSG (business society and government).  As you might imagine, I’m here for accounting.

I like coming to the NAAS portion of the MBAA conference.  There are only 80 accounting academics in attendance, but they all are really cool (especially TF).

This post is about my presentation, titled:

If you want, you can view my presentation slides.

Should professors be using blogging in the classroom? Duhhhh, yes.  Blogging should be used in any class where the professor wants to accomplish anything other than memorization for multiple choice tests.  It is not uncommon for teachers to use blogging in elementary education classes.  If second graders can handle it, then college students should be able to.

A professor does not need to be a blogger to use blogging in the classroom.

Why use blogging?  For many reasons, but here are two.  First, it’s a social media world.  College students that can do anything with SM other than Facebook are at a premium.  Accounting and law firms use social media and blogging.  Obtaining SM proficiency gives students a leg up when they graduate.  Second, it’s such an easy tool to use if you want students to do anything more than memorize.

There are four ways to use blogging in the classroom:

  1. Professor can transmit useful content to students.  Blogging is a great platform for writing informative essays.
  2. Professors can introduce a provocative issue in a blog post, and require students to make comments.  The first student reacts to what the professor wrote.  Each successive student reacts to what both the professor and previous commenting students wrote.  It is a great way to achieve a group thinking environment.
  3. Professors can assign students to write their own blog posts, and then publish them to the student’s own blog or to a group blog.  This is a great way for a student to learn what others in the class are thinking.
  4. Professors can assign blog essays that are published and available on the web, and then students can write their analysis of or reaction to that essay.  These can be submitted online or via paper.

There are three types of blogs and blog posts:

  1. Informative or news.  The purpose of these types of blogs is to pass along news tidbits.  A great example in tax is the TaxProf, by Paul Caron.  He gets about 7,000,000 hits per year.  I asked another tax professor if he reads TaxProf, and he responded that he does on a daily basis.  I then asked him if he has his students read TaxProf.  He said no.  No?  By the way, Professor Caron makes the Accounting Today list of 100 most influential people in the American accounting world.
  2. Commentary or editorial.  Most bloggers have an opinion and they want to persuade readers.  Having students read, analyze and react to these commentaries is a great way to introduce students to developing professional values.  So often professors never ask students what they think.  This is a great way of doing so.  In the study of liberal arts, critical thinking is defined as reading, analyzing and reacting. A great example of this in the accounting area is the Accounting Onion, by Tom Selling.
  3. Lifestyle, or welcome to my life.  Students don’t yet know what it is like to be working as an accountant.  A blog focused on the young accountant’s working environment is a great way of showing students what the working world of accounting is like.  Examples are Accountant by Day (working accountant), and Pondering the Classroom (accounting professor).

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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AECM (Accounting Education Using Computers and Multimedia) is the listserv for accounting professors.  Membership fluctuates between 600-1,000.

Over the years, the e-mail discussions have been carried out between Bob Jensen, David Fordham, Paul Williams, Jagdish Gangolly, Amy Dunbar, Ed Scribner, Richard Campbell, myself and several others (my apologies for not mentioning any that want to be recognized).

How do these discussions get started?  It’s just like in any group.  Usually there’s a leader, who in this case is Bob Jensen (emeritus professor from Trinity University).  He’s always finding interesting articles out on the web (he’s a prolific surfer).  He’ll bring them to our attention, sometimes with his own comment.  Then, if the article strikes someone’s fancy, they’ll respond and pretty soon there’s a pretty good exchange going.  Discussions can get started in other ways, but not usually.

In recent years, Bob has been picking up on the commentary provided by bloggers.  Bob has passed along links to many posts written by some of the AECM members.

Bill McCarthy (Michigan State AIS guru) got the idea that a blogger panel discussion at the American Accounting Association annual meeting would be a good idea.  Five of us–Tom Selling, Ed Ketz, Francine McKenna, Joe Hoyle and myself–quickly jumped on board.  At the last minute, I’ve had to drop off due to a scheduling conflict.  It has been eating at me for weeks that I won’t be there on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 in San Francisco.

Here’s a preview of these bloggers and what they mean to AECM.


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Accounting and/or financial blogs are a big deal.  As the world evolves and becomes faster paced, long-lived jobs will disappear.   We accountants will adapt by piecing together a career from many project-length opportunities.  I believe it will be a matter of professional life or death for accountants to get on top of evolving current events and stay there.  For there to be life, we all need to make life-long learning a lifestyle.

The ability to think will separate thrivers from survivors and hangers-on.  We accountants will need to think critically (buzzword for analyze and understand what is going on), creatively (inventing solutions) and practically (applying cutting edge skills to implement solutions).

How will we learn to think these ways and grow our thinking?  Independent blogs commentaries like The Summa, and re: The Auditors, and TaxGirl.  Blogs provide input to fuel critical thinking, seeds for creating thinking, and energy for practical thinking.

So, I want to encourage accounting/financial blogging.  Then along came this e-mail. from a Summa reader, asking about my blogging process.  Although I don’t reveal his identity, I’m already aware of his writing and his unifying message.  He has a lot to contribute, and I think he should blog.   So, I wrote this blog piece.   His comments/questions are  in emphasized green, answers in normal font.

Love your blog. I’m thinking of starting one………… How many hours a week do you spend on it?

A simple answer is 20-30 hours, but it really depends. Posts, which frequently become essays, start with a four hour time commitment and grow from there.  Some of the technical essays I did on IFRS could took a week to ten days of writing for a 6,000 word essay.  And this was on top of my already having mentally planned the structure of the essay.  If you aren’t already an expert on something, add research time.

An important factor in budgeting for time is your expectation of the blog post’s permanence.  Quality essays that will still be read a year later require more time to create, or else it will be GIGO.


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Just like anyone else in our fast paced world of American on the Internet, I have many things tugging for my attention and too little time to do them all.

Professors potentially have many task masters, and being a blogging professor means asking for a never-ending work load.

The purpose of today’s blog piece is to show you just how busy and pressured is the life of a blogging accounting professor.


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By day and night I’m an accounting professor.  By inclination, however, I’m a [place adjective here] blogger.  Pick you favorite adjective:  financial, accounting, regulatory, professorial, or whatever.

A few days ago, a reader e-mailed asking why I blog, etc.   Summing it up in a few words,  “I think and because I must express myself, therefore I blog.”   The reader continued with another question, asking where the ideas come from that turn into blog posts.  My vague reply probably dealt with living in a diverse world during interesting times.  But that’s not all of it by any means.

The essence of my day job is to observe the world of accounting (and education), figure it out, and then explain it to students at my academic institution.  By some perverse twist of thought, I have substituted “any past, present and potentially future reader of The Summa” in place of students.  Voilà!

Ideas for blog posts spring naturally from the manner in which I look at the world, and what part of my world I’m looking at.   Generally speaking, the manner in which a person looks at the world has an influence in that person’s world view, a topic I wrote about a few days ago (On Developing a Worldview).

For me to explain anything, in class or on this blog, I must be able to figure it out.  And to do that I must ask questions.  Frequently asked questions include, “What just happened here?” or “Why did that happen here?” or “Is it likely to happen again?” or “What is the pattern?”  Questions must precede answers, and answers dictate the response.

Today, the part of the world I’m looking at is the start of classes for a new semester.  Hence this blog post.  My classes meet for the first time on Tuesday.  I’m getting ready today and tomorrow.

What will the course be like?  What will be covered?  How will it be covered?  What skills will be stressed?  Essentially, I’m in the middle of figuring out how to explain to students how I look at the world of intermediate financial accounting.

But that’s not all of it.


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It is December 31, and so many of us are getting ready to party.  Everyone is, except accounting bloggers and those who read their blogs.  So as to give you something to do tonight while you sip your diet coke, you can reflect over the high points of The Summa.


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Albrecht is a blogging professor.

I’m a senior accounting professor.  The Summa is my expression of what and how I think about the world of accounting, i.e., the world according to Albrecht.

Why should anyone care?  There are a few ways to answer.

One possible answer is because society has decided that there be professors.  Professors-to-be are charged with studying in a discipline until such time as they are ready to teach others.  What criterion or criteria signal readiness?  I think it should be when he/she has sufficient understanding and wisdom to be able to teach students in the way they should go, or be.  This is a pretty tall order.  Over the years, I’ve claimed this is when a professor has a mature view on the way his/her part of the world works.

A second possibility is because it fits within a professor’s generally accepted professional duties.  The consensus is that a professor has three primary areas of responsibility:


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I’ve been blogging for 15 months now.   Many, though, have been doing it far longer and are much better at it than I.  So much so, that I have taken to allocating time every morning for scrolling down through a list of blogs for comments and updates.  Although I read some for information updating, I really enjoy the editorializing.  I try not to subscribe to a lot of e-mail updating, as it really clogs my in-box.

Dan Meyer (Austin Peay) has a blog worth visiting.  His Tick Marks blog (http://tickmarks.blogspot.com) on taxation has received a fair amount of recognition.   What I’m emphasizing today, though, is his blogroll.  A blogroll is a list of readable or favorite blogs, usually in the right hand column.  To be included in somone’s blogroll is an honor, as it means your merit a recommendation.   Dan Meyer spends a lot of time on his blogroll, making sure that it is just right.   He has a special class of blogs, though, called the 12 Blogs of Christmas. These are in emphasized font (bold) on his blogroll.  Some members of AECM (international e-mail listserv for accounting professors) have reached the exalted status of a 12 Blogs of Christmas:   Tom Selling’s Accounting Onion, Francine McKenna’s re: The Auditors, and Edith Orenstein’s FEI Blog.   So too, had one candidate for SEC Chief Accountant–Jack Ciesielski’s The AAO Weblog (not an AECMer, though).

If you don’t yet spend much time reading blogs, I recommend that you start.  A great way to start is to visit the Tick Marks site and daily click on a smattering of blogs (remember, the blogroll is on the right).  You’ll be glad you did.


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blog-iconLaw professors do it–they do it with appeal.   Economists do it–with demand and supply.   If accounting professors did it (they don’t), they would be certified to do it.  Why don’t accounting professors do it?

We’re talking about blogging, of course.  This essay follows Accounting Professors Who Blog, where I provide links to the ten accounting professors who currently blog.  Figuring out why accounting professors shun it is the subject of today’s essay.

Basics of Blogging and a Short History

What is a blog?  Blogging is similar to the centuries-old practice of keeping a diary or regularly writing thoughts on paper and binding the pages into a journal or notebook.  A blog is a web site where an author (or team of authors) writes or comments on an issue or several related issues.  Additional comments are added on a regular or semi-regular basis.  Every time a blogger adds to the web site, it is called posting.  Blogs can be personal, about professional topics, or about current news events.  There are several web sites devoted to providing the means for bloggers to do their thing.

Blog is the popular permutation of web log.  According to Rebecca Blood, the term blog was created in 1997 when Peter Merholz rearranged the letters of web log into wee blog.  Soon thereafter, the noun form of blog was altered into a verb.  [Transforming nouns into verbs is great fun.  Betamax, a videocassette recorder, means to be made obsolete when used as a verb].

Of course, blogging started before there was a term for it.  There are several online histories of blogging [1 2 3 4].  They all pretty much say the same thing.  Blogs started in 1992 or 1993 and early on were web pages (with updating) containing histories of favorite web sites.   By 1997 or 1998, software was available to automate the posting, obviating the need for bloggers to be html coders.  By this time, people had started blogging about personal or professional thoughts, incorporating images and audio files and video files whenever deemed appropriate.

Some consider early Usenet groups and e-mail list groups to be antecedents of blogging.  Some  consider e-mail lists to be equivalent to blogging, just done via e-mail instead of being posted to web pages.  Of course, people have been writing journals for centuries, they just were doing it on paper instead of online.

The practice of blogging grew rapidly.  Eventually the number of active blogs peaked at 100,000,000.  As blogs become inactive, new bloggers take their place.

Why Blog?

Typepad, one of the blog-hosting companies, posts these reasons to blog.  I don’t think they provide much motivation, but then, it’s difficult to get me excited.

  • A blog is a simple, cost-effective way to create a professional online presence.
  • A blog creates a conversation between you and the people who matter to you.
  • A blog is a tremendous way to boost your search engine rankings.
  • A blog delivers a huge impact for very little money.
  • A blog allows you to take control of what you publish.
  • A blog allows you to develop a position of thought leadership.
  • A blog is a valuable business tool for collecting customer feedback.
  • A blog creates a historical record of your content.

*   *   *   *   *   *

At the core of blogging, it is all about personal expression.  It is about making a contribution where the writer describes who and why he or she is.  Sandhill Trek as a nice piece–Why do we blog?— where many bloggers contribute their thoughts as to why they blog.

A belief held by many bloggers is that blogging is a natural form of self expression. It is the modern day equivalent of writing a diary or writing to pen pals.


But more to the point of this essay, why should professors blog?  Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, has two nice pieces entitled, Encouraging Educators to Blog, and Some More Reasons to Blog.  He has done such a good job of justifying the items compiled into his list, that I’m going to shamelessly paste them verbatim into this essay.  Weller, take it away:

  • The economics of reputation – increasingly one’s reputation online is seen as a valuable commodity. This is partly because a good reputation is difficult to establish and also because in an environment where content is free and widely available then quality becomes a differentiating factor.
  • Engagement with your subject area – in many subject areas the blogosphere is where much of the informed and detailed debate is occurring. If this is the case in your subject area then not to be part of it limits your expertise in the same manner as not publishing journal articles (perhaps even more so). If your subject area is not one widely engaged with blogging then this represents a good opportunity to establish yourself as one of the lead experts.
  • Increased reflection – keeping a regular blog seems to encourage a degree of reflection and critical analysis as you comment on conferences, workshops, research, etc.
  • Personal status and payback – being a recognised blogger in any field is likely to raise your profile and thus lead to increased requests for participation in projects, key note speeches, consultancy, invited papers, etc.
  • Organisational status – as an institution the Open University (UK) is not as prominent in the blogosphere as it should be. While company blogs tend to be rather bland, there is a positive image and potentially student recruitment effect for the institution if there are known to be a number of good bloggers in residence.
  • Link to teaching – the type of content used in courses is increasingly diverse, and one model for including up to date information is to have feeds from a number of blogs incorporated in to teaching material.
  • Eating our own dog food – increasingly students are encouraged to use blogs in courses, and so we should be demonstrating how they can be effective.
  • It exposes the process – much of the community of practice theory argues that being able to participate in a community novices should be able to observe, and to an extent participate with, experts in action. A blog is good means of allowing others to observe some of the less well thought out ideas and ongoing projects of an academic. This applies to both students and other members of staff, as Christopher Semmus argues, blogging represents a good model for mentoring within a university. James Aczel has started a blog for his course H809 during production, which will reveal many of the design decisions taken in the course, and potentially be a useful resource for future students on the course.
  • It provides a useful tool for engaging with other technologies – the array of web 2.0 technologies can be quite daunting. However, many of these relate to blogging, and so by keeping a blog one is exposed to these technologies in a meaningful context. The technology required to keep a blog is fairly simple to use, so it is easy to get started, and then once your blog has momentum you may wish to explore some of the related tools and technologies. For instance Technorati is a site for ranking blogs, so you may want to claim your blog in here, and Feedburner is a means of allowing people to subscribe easily to your blog, while Slideshare allows people to embed their powerpoint presentations within their blog postings, and so on. By keeping a blog there is a motivation and a means to engage with many of the newer technologies that have potential benefits for our students.
  • It’s a good means of getting down, or building up, all those thoughts that never quite get in to journal papers. Either because journals are too restrictive (they’ll want lots of data for any claim you make), or because you never get around to it, but I know that I for one, have an idea (or maybe it’s an idealet) every day (okay maybe every week – month? go, on year then), which never finds an outlet and is then lost. The blog is a good means of capturing these, and over time they may find their way in to something more research recognizable.

questionmarkAll of these reasons could appeal to accounting professors.  But there is an important additional reason for accounting professors to blog, stated so insightfully by Steven Muzatko, Associate Professor of Accounting at University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.  Professor Muzatko says that each entry in an academic blog can be a  think piece.  Think pieces, for him, are not only interesting, but also important.  He was attracted into academic accounting because of its history of publishing such pieces in The Accounting Review and other journals.  Unfortunately, very few think pieces have been published since 1970.

In some academic disciplines, blogging is becoming very popular.  In law, medicine, economics, education and literature there is a growing expectation that professors will blog as part of their normal set of duties.  In law, especially, blogging is very common.  But not so in the academic discipline of accounting.

Why Accounting Professors Don’t Blog

As was seen in my first essay on blogging, Accounting Professors Who Blog, the practice of blogging is not common among accounting professors.  There are only ten and one of these is written by a retired professor who has become a consultant.  Why isn’t blogging a common practice for accounting professors?

The first reason for few blogs by academic accountants is that blogging simply doesn’t count as scholarship.  The major accrediting agency–AACSB– pretty much controls most aspects of the largest colleges/schools/departments of business.  AACSB defines the basic qualification for teaching in one of their schools to be mastery of content as evidenced by recent refereed journal articles.  If it isn’t refereed, then it doesn’t count.  And if it doesn’t count, then it isn’t rewarded.  Period.  As long as the AACSB tightly rules the academic world of business and accounting, it will be difficult for many business professors to be motivated enough (financially) to crank out a blog.  The ACBSP (accrediting body for smaller colleges and departments of business) also stresses refereed journal articles.

Now, I personally define scholarship as insightful contributions by an expert who has near total command of a subject matter’s content and who has sufficient experience to develop a wise world view that produces thoughts that are of interest to others.  For me, a piece has to be valuable for it to be scholarhsip.  I think there are multiple outlets for scholarship.  A few years back, Ernest Boyer proposed a model with four types of scholarship.  Although Boyer talks about the natural outlet for the scholarship of discovery being publications, he does recognize the potential for other types of outlet.  Boyer’s way of thinking has not yet made it to AACSB controlled colleges/schools/departments of business.  A refereed publication need not contain scholarship but will still count, and non-referee published scholarship does not count.

A second reason for little blogging by accounting academics is that the discipline is dysfunctional after years of control by a network of elite schools that emphasize accountics.  Jean Heck and Bob Jensen provide support for this in their incredibly valuable and insightful paper, “An Analysis of the Evolution of Research Contributions by The Accounting Review, 1926-2005” in  The Accounting Historians Journal, December 2007.  In their paper, Heck and Jensen chronicle the ascendency and dominance of the accountics model for accounting research and publication.  Accountics has been disastrous for the discipline, because in large part all research has pretty much been bunk, devoid of value to anyone but other accountics researchers.  Prior to the advent of accountics, The Accounting Review regularly contained think pieces.  After accountics, no think pieces were judged to have any value what-so-ever.  Of course, not all think pieces, if they were to be written, contain scholarship   However, the ancient history of academic accouting is that such pieces sometimes contained scholarship of the highest level.

A final reason deals with the conservative nature of most accounting professors.  Accounting professors have been described as the most traditional and conservative group of faculty in the entire academy.  Such professors are naturally resistant to change.  This resistance to change is regularly seen by the continued use of archaic instructional approaches that have been debunked by the learning centered approach. Never-the-less, almost all accounting professors continue to use the old ways of teaching.

I think that the acadeic discipline of accounting could be amazingly transformed if more accounting professors started blogging.  Medicine has its list of top 50 blogs, and Law has its top 100.  Accounting only has ten blogs in total.

Over and out – – David Albrecht

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In this essay I explain why I blog and list all the other accounting professors who blog.  There aren’t many.

I posted my first blog entry nearly four months ago, on September 3.  At long last I have joined a very popular trend, professors who blog.  Fifty posts/essays later, I’m more committed than ever.

blogkeysWhy didn’t I do it before?  Ignorance.  Until just recently, I didn’t even read blogs.  RSS feed?  Don’t even know what that is.  Just give me a journal or magazine article that I can conveniently cite when I write a journal or magazine article of my own.

I finally realized that I’ve been blogging for quite a while.  How so?  About 1,000 accounting professors belong to an e-mail list called AECM (Accounting Education using Computers and Multi-media).  I’ve been subscribed since the get-go.  The list currently generates 30-60 e-mail posts per week on a variety of topics.  Bob Jensen (emeritus of Trinity University) sends more than half. That’s OK with most of us.  He is a prolific web surfer.  He usually finds interesting articles that in some way relate to either accounting or accounting education and sends in links to them, sometimes accompanied by either his opinion on it or a series of questions designed to get us thinking.  After about 10 years of this, those who don’t like to receive so many e-mails or so many of his e-mails have left the list.

I don’t lurk.  This apparently means I don’t mind embarrassing myself if I send an e-mail to the group.  Over the past few years, whenever attending a conference I’d usually meet someone who liked reading my posts to the list.  Hmmm, I have an audience.  It’s best never to admit that to a professor.  So, I’ve slowing been increasing the rate of my submissions, and over the past year I might have sent in 200 e-mails.  That was too much for both me and the list members.  At the last conference I attended, a friend came up to me and said, “I think of you every day, when I open my e-mail program and see that you’ve filled it with so much crap.”  Although he might have been trying to be funny, I still winced.

Sending any unsolicited e-mail, let alone too much of it, is definitely not the way to keep friends and influence enemies.  So it is off to the world of blogging that I go.

Why should a professor blog?   See the next essay, Why Accounting Profs Should Blog, to find out.

Here is a listing of accounting professors that are using blogs or in some cases, have used blogs.  The ten current bloggers differ greatly from each other.  However, they all have something in common:  They have something to say that can no longer be bottled up.  I recommend that you bookmark them all.

  • The Accounting Onion (USA) – retired Thunderbird professor Tom Selling.
  • Andy’s Teaching and Learning Blog (USA) – tenured instructor and department chair at Edmonds Community College.
  • The AGA Weblog (USA)- Willamette assistant professor Kenneth Smith has written a blog since March, 2008, for the Association of Government Accountants.
  • Bob Jensen blogs (USA) – retired Trinity University professor.  Prolific contributor to AECM.  His most relevant blog is Tidbits.
  • Prem Sikka (UK)- Accounting professor at University of Essex blogs at The Guardian (London newspaper)
  • Professor Elam (USA)- University of North Texas at Dallas professor Dennis Elam blogs on every day events from the world of business, linking them to the classroom.
  • Professor Gerald Trites (CAN)- (FCA, CA*IT/CISA) is a Professor of Accounting and Information Systems at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He was the first Director of the Gerald Schwartz School of Business Administration and has served as Chair of the Department of Information Systems.  Maintains Canada XBRL Blog.
  • Really Engaging Accounting (USA)- Central Florida accounting professor Steve Hornik.
  • The Summa (USA)- commentary on Financial Reporting and related matters by David Albrecht.
  • Tick Marks (USA)- an Austin Peay tax accounting professor, Dan Meyer, that has blogged continuously since 2005. When blogging about accounting, his posts focus on tax (surprise, surprise, surprise) and personal finance. He also blogs about accounting students.

Here is a review by accounting students who blog

  • CPA Pledge: Accounting student Jim Chapman chronicles his experience at Central Connecticut University. Is currently centered around studying for the CPA exam.
  • NJSCPA Exam Cram Blog: Recent College of New Jersey grad Priscilla Jenkins, has blogged since July, 2007, about studying for the CPA exam. Is sponsored by New Jersey Society of CPAs.

Dormant academic blogs

Over and out – – David Albrecht

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