Examining External Validity Criticisms in the Choice of Students as Subjects in Accounting Experiment Studies
Landry, Steven P.
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This paper addresses choice of subjects in experiments with particular attention paid to the use of students. We first review the literature concerning internal and external validity concerns with respect to subject type choice followed by a discussion of experimental design. We then review six of the leading accounting journals, evaluating and comparing subject types used in published articles employing experiments during the period 1994-2007 inclusive. Our results show that many accounting researchers have used student subjects, both undergraduate and graduate, in their research while making relative(v significant contributions to the accounting literature. Jn designing and conducting experiments, extant literature provides guidance whereby researchers employing students, particularly undergraduate students, can mitigate potential external validity concerns. Researchers should conduct manipulation checks with at least some "real world" subjects to compare with student subjects. If differences are found, then researchers will need to redesign their experiments in order to address external validity concerns.
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