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Writing as a Business-Accounting Major
Writing as an Accountant
After an interview with Professor Darren T. Roulstone, Associate Professor of Accounting & MIS, I discovered that writings within accounting take two main forms, research, and getting papers published in journals. Professor Roulstone would be one to know, having been published in the
Journal of Accounting and Economics and The
Professor Darren T Roulstone
Roulstone writes, he said in his experience writing within accounting, he is simply telling a story. He says his main goals in his writings are to make the reader understand what he's talking about, why it's important, and then what is the conclusion. He explains a complex situation in a simple way to try and get his audience to be able to understand him. However, these two forms take place mainly in the 'professional world' of Accounting, not so much in an undergrad situation. In the Accounting classes that Professor Roulstone teaches, he said that he has, "little to no writing expectations...students in my classes almost never even write a sentence" (Roulstone). His teachings are mostly technical information, and as he put it elegantly, "if they don't know it, I'll teach it to them" (Roulstone).
Undergrad Writing Expectations
We've dipped into what an expert in the field expects, however as I discovered he doesn't have the most accurate feel for what exactly it is that an upper-level undergrad would encounter. Professor Roulstone's incite was helpful, but i realized he can only speak for his personal expectations. To get a better first-person view of writing for an accounting major I went to a senior, David Bentrovato, who is in his 4th year with the honors accounting program. It was very interesting to hear the contrast between the two interviews, since David has just recently experienced everything it is that I was out seeking.
We begin with some terminology that is used commonly in the entry level courses, to get an understanding of what accounting is, and how it will be used in years to come:
: Stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
: Stands for Generally Accepted Auditing Standards
: A financial statement that discloses the assets, liabilities, and equities of an entity at a specified date in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
A ledger containing the accounts in which are recorded, in detail or in summary, all transactions of the state.
: The journal in which all entries not recorded in special journals are recorded.
A document submitted by a vendor, showing the character, quantity, price, terms, nature of delivery, and other particulars of goods delivered or of services rendered.
: Document used to initiate an individual accounting transaction.
- Writing Styles -
David said that the one style of writing he found most useful was the ability to write a research paper. He did confirm that there were some classes that were strictly numbers, however
discussions lead to many case studies and research papers. Accounting can be more than just a numbers game, David said, "sometimes we needed to treat accounting as a library of information, instead of just formulas. Then we would have to use that new information to make business decisions" (Bentrovato). He explained how the expectations of his teachers were not that he could write elegantly, but simply that he could get his point across. David said that in any of his accounting classes you can get by with two important skills.
1. Having good analytical writing skills
being able to talk about something, using math to explain it, and then relating it to real life situations
2. Being able to write CLEARLY and CONCISELY
not writing everything that is on your mind, but being able to make your final draft
short, and to the point (Bentrovato)
Business Ethics Defined:
Accounting and business ethics go hand in hand. Dolfsma introduces a new way of approaching the two subjects in his journal "Accounting as Applied Ethics: Teaching a Discipline". He says, "accounting may be perceived and presented as applied ethics...Doing so will improve the way in which students approach the topic, as people are likely to perceive of their social enviornment firstly in moral terms" (Dolfsma 213).
Presenting yourself through your writings
The last bit of helpful information that David had for developing accountants was
The most important thing to any businessman is his image, and presentation is the key to start things off on the right foot. This could be something as simple as E-mail Etiquette. Under some circumstances, an E-mail is the first impression that a potential employer, professor, or fellow businessman has to judge you by (Bentrovato).
5 quick tips to great E-mail Etiquette!
1. Be clear and concise with your E-mails
Sound familiar? Keeping your E-mails to the point does not mean you need to slack on grammatical accuracy!
2. Recognize the tone of your E-mail
Sarcasm and other forms of non-verbal communication are very hard to transfer via E-mail, so don't try it.
3. Use a signature
Include your contact information and mailing addresses, to be sure that people know exactly who their talking to.
4. Keep it formal
A "Dear John," and "Sincerely," can go a long way in making you look more professional.
5. Only involve those who need to be involved
Be aware when you're using the 'reply all'; don't clutter the inbox of others if they don't need to be informed! (Stack)
Further Questions to think about...
1. How could business ethics within accounting differ from other specializations within business?
2. The field of accounting seems to be very concrete, however, Professor Roulstone is continually doing research and publishing new information. What aspects of this subcategory of business might change?
3. Could E-mail etiquette be taken too far to produce a negative reaction? How can somebody be sure they're using the appropriate level of formality in E-mails?
Bentrovato, David. "Writing within Accounting." Personal interview. 19 Jan. 2012.
Dolfsma, Wilfred. "Accounting as Applied Ethics: Teaching a Discipline."
Journal of Business Ethics
63.3 (2006): 209-15. Print.
Roulstone, Darren T. "Fisher College of Business | Faculty Experts Guide."
Fisher College of Business | The Ohio State University
. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. <
Roulstone, Darren T. "Writings within Accounting." Personal interview. 16 Jan. 2012.
Stack, Laura. "12 Tips for Better E-mail Etiquette."
. Microsoft Outlook. Web. 19 Jan. 2012. <
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