Tiffany Westfall, an accounting graduate student from Vincennes, Indiana, was the first student to represent the University of Nebraska–Lincoln at the Doctoral Consortium of the Illinois Audit Symposium. As one of six students invited to present research, she learned academic research meets the needs of real world businesses.
“Attending the Illinois Audit Symposium was a prominent learning experience for me, because it helped me understand how I can develop myself as a researcher and as a teacher,” Westfall said.
Her research on “Audit Firms as a Network of Offices,” explores the impact a connected network of offices has on audit reports compared to a network of offices that are not so connected. With this knowledge, business leaders can improve their offices’ connectedness and thereby increase its quality of audit reports. Westfall’s co-researchers include Dr. Scott Seavey, assistant professor of accountancy, and Dr. Michael Imhof from Wichita State University.
“Overall, my presentation went well. I received encouraging feedback along with some challenging questions. It will be interesting to apply some of those thought-provoking questions to the research process,” she said.
The symposium also included graduate student seminars where two guest speakers were invited to counsel students on how to conduct and present research effectively and encourage them to plan their academic careers early.
“In attending the seminars, I learned how critical it is to have other reviewers of the literature and the research involved in order to gain new perspectives,” she said. “By asking for other opinions, doctoral students can be more prepared to present their work with discussants, especially one who may know your topic’s literature very well.”
While she did not have a discussant when presenting her research at the consortium, other students did. Dr. Thomas Omer, director of the Ph.D. program in the School of Accountancy and Delmar Lienemann Sr. Chair of Accounting, served as a discussant for the paper “Auditor-Relevant Congressional Committees and Audit Quality.”
“Discussants assist students by understanding their research and then giving constructive feedback. As a discussant, I share what I found interesting, answer some underlying questions and then suggest ideas that can clearly tell their story. This helps students not only as researchers but also as story tellers. They must be able to tell the story in order to draw people into the research and its importance,” Omer said.