Evolvement of China-related Topics in Academic Accounting Research: Machine Learning Evidence
This study employs an unsupervised machine learning approach to explore the evolution of accounting research. We are particularly interested in exploring why international researchers and audiences are interested in China-related issues; what kinds of research topics related to China are mainly investigated in globally recognised journals; and what patterns and emerging topics can be explored by comprehensively analysing a big sample. Using a training sample of 23,220 articles from 46 accounting journals over the period 1980 to 2018, we first identify the optimal number of accounting research topics; the dynamic patterns of these accounting research topics are explored on the basis of 46 accounting journals to show changes in the focus of accounting research. Further, we collect articles related to Chinese accounting research from 18 accounting journals, eight finance journals, and eight management journals over the period 1980 to 2018. We objectively identify China-related accounting research topics and map them to the stages of China’s economic development. We attempt to identify the China-related issues global researchers are interested in and whether accounting research reflects the economic context. We use HistCite TM to generate a citation map along a timeline to illustrate the connections between topics. The citation clusters demonstrate “tribalism” phenomena in accounting research. The topics related to Chinese accounting research conducted by international accounting researchers reveal that accounting changes mirror economic reforms. Our findings indicate that accounting research is embedded in the economic context.