The Assurance Research Advisory Group (ARAG) is a group of practitioners and academics formed in collaboration with the American Accounting Association (AAA). The ARAG requests, reviews and approves academic research proposals which address private company assurance topics that are of interest to practitioners. Approved research proposals are eligible for funding.
See below for answers to frequently asked questions regarding ARAG.
Questions are organized by topic.
To return to the Assurance Research Advisory Group home page click here.
About the Group
ARAG is a group of practitioners and academics formed in collaboration with the American Accounting Association (AAA). The group requests, reviews and approves academic research proposals which address private company assurance topics that are of interest to practitioners. Approved research proposals are eligible for funding and, where applicable, access to firm personnel or firm data gathered by the AICPA Peer Review Program. In providing funding and resources, ARAG seeks to:
- Drive research relative to private company assurance issues that are most pressing to the profession;
- Provide the AICPA with valuable insight into the factors that affect the quality of private company assurance services; and
- Use those insights to support the Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) initiative.
Yes, ARAG will be comparable to the Center for Audit Quality's (CAQ’s) Research Advisory Board (RAB).
Launched in 2008, the RAB was created to improve audit quality through research related to public company auditing and to increase engagement between auditors and the academic community. The RAB solicits research proposals in specific areas of interest to the CAQ. The RAB has been a success, generating approximately 40 proposals annually and approving three to five each year for funding. Another program, run jointly by the CAQ and the AAA Auditing Section, is the Access to Audit Personnel Program which provides researchers access to audit staff from the eight largest public company accounting firms for selected behavioral research studies. This program does not provide funding.
In July 2012, the Pathways Commission on Higher Accounting (the Pathways Commission) which was formed by the AICPA and AAA to study the future of higher education and develop recommendations for the accounting profession issued its report entitled, “Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generation of Accountants.” In the report, the Pathways Commission recommended that the profession establish additional joint research ventures modeled on the CAQ’s RAB.
How it works
The composition of ARAG is as follows:
- A practitioner who serves as chair;
- Four academics from the AAA Auditing Section; and
- One representative each from the Auditing Standard Board (ASB), Peer Review Board (PRB), Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC), Assurance Services Executive Committee (ASEC) and Accounting and Review Services Committee (ARSC)
On an annual basis, ARAG issues a request for proposal (RFP) to the academic community. The RFP details the topics of greatest interest to the profession for which research proposals are being requested. These topics of interest are solicited from practitioners serving on various AICPA and state society committees and will focus on private company assurance engagements that are not subject to PCAOB inspection.
Any accounting educator is eligible to submit a proposal.
All research proposals will be reviewed by the AICPA to confirm that they address one of the topics of interest from the RFP. Proposals which address a topic of interest undergo an analysis of the hypothesis by an academic and are assessed for practical utility by a practitioner. Proposals recommended for consideration are then taken to the full ARAG for discussion, where select proposals are approved.
Up to $15,000 is available for each approved research proposal. Funding is based on the expected expenses of the research team and the achievement of certain milestones.
Where access to firm personnel is provided, the AICPA partners with regional and national firms (none of which are among the largest eight) that volunteer to assist ARAG in facilitating research relative to audit issues most pressing to the profession. AICPA staff serve as the intermediary between the research team and the firm, maintaining the anonymity of the firm and its personnel while assuring that a sufficient sample is made available to the research team.
Where access to peer reviewers is provided, AICPA staff distribute the research instrument to the peer reviewers and/or schedule facilitate interviews between the research team and the peer reviewers. In so doing, AICPA staff serve as the intermediary between the research team and the peer reviewers, maintaining the anonymity of the reviewers while assuring that a sufficient sample is made available to the research team.
It is expected that research teams will seek to publish their results in academic journals. To raise awareness in the profession, the AICPA secures co-publishing rights to the research so that summaries of the results may be made available to members through the Journal of Accountancy, CPA Letter Daily and other channels.
Access to Anonymized Firm Data Collected by Peer Review
In their July 2012 report, the Pathways Commission found that accounting research is not often directed toward addressing the issues most pressing to the profession. This lack of collaboration is not typical of other learned professions, such as medicine, engineering, or law, where research is deliberately directed toward problems faced by practicing professionals.
As the Pathways Commission report noted, many university rankings are, in part, based on the volume of academic research published in selected journals. Individual faculty members are then evaluated, including assessment of qualifications for tenure, based on their contributions to these journals. At the same time, these journals rarely publish directly practice-focused research because such research is often qualitative in nature. Providing researchers with access to firm data gathered by the AICPA Peer Review Program would help address this challenge by supporting quantitative research.
After receiving a firm’s consent, the AICPA will provide research teams with anonymized firm data collected through the AICPA Peer Review Program. Click here for more information about the data that will be provided.
The AICPA will request firm consents through the AICPA Enhanced Oversight program and through the peer review scheduling form. The firm may revoke their consent at any time, after which their data will be removed from any future datasets which are provided to researchers.