Assurance Research Advisory Group (ARAG)


The Assurance Research Advisory Group (ARAG) is comprised of representatives from academia and public practice. The group funds research projects addressing private company1 assurance topics that are of interest to practitioners. Selected research topics are shared annually through a call for interest. Approved research teams are eligible for access to firm personnel, peer reviewers and up to $10,000 in funding. The research funded by the ARAG will provide the profession with valuable insights into the factors that affect the quality of assurance services.

The ARAG is currently accepting submissions. Accounting educators are encouraged to review the call for interest and submit a one-page summary of their research plan through the online submission form. In developing a research plan summary, researchers are encouraged to utilize the ARAG Research Plan Summary template.

  • Research plan summary submissions ends on July 12, 2019.
  • Grants will be announced no later than September 15, 2019.

For more information on the ARAG, review the ARAG FAQs.

1 Defined as entities not required to be audited in accordance with PCAOB auditing standards, including privately held companies, not-for-profit organizations, employee benefit plans and governmental entities.

If you are interested in conducting academic research on public company auditing topics, the Center for Audit Quality has two programs that might be of interest: Access to Audit Personnel and Research Advisory Board grants.

Research Topics

The AICPA is interested in funding projects that address the topics listed below. These topics are solicited from various AICPA committees on an annual basis and are focused on domestic private company assurance engagements that are not subject to PCAOB inspection.

Qualitative Materiality

The AICPA is interested in research to better understand the key challenges faced by practitioners when considering materiality in attestation engagements that involve aspects of subject matters that cannot be quantifiably measured. Examples of such subject matters include a narrative description of a system prepared by management in a system and organization controls (SOC) examination or in a sustainability engagement, or an examination of system controls (other than an examination of internal control over financial reporting, which is usually performed as part of an integrated audit).

Key areas for exploration include how practitioners 1) consider materiality during engagement planning, including how their perception of the common information needs of intended users affects that consideration, and 2) evaluate whether misstatements identified during the engagement are material based on the qualitative factors.

Levels of Assurance

The AICPA is interested in research regarding levels of assurance obtained by practitioners in relation to limited assurance (review) versus reasonable assurance (audit) engagements. Specifically, what are user perceptions of the nature or rigor of work needed to achieve limited assurance versus reasonable assurance and do users understand the different levels of assurance?

A key area for exploration is research around assessing whether a level of assurance between limited and reasonable assurance engagements would be considered useful and desired by users of financial statements. For example, would an engagement currently characterized as a limited assurance (review) engagement augmented with certain substantive tests of details determined without going through a full risk assessment process currently embodied in AU-C 315 be considered useful and desired by users of financial statements? Such substantive tests of details may involve procedures performed for cash in bank balances, confirmation of trade accounts receivable, fixed asset additions, subsequent disbursement work related to accounts payable and accrued payroll.