Besides the need for support from theories that sustain the subject
under discussion, the development and significance of a scientific study
depend on a structure of methods and techniques that facilitates its
construction and offers the credibility its product requires. A research
cannot be effective without taking into account the steps needed to
Given that one is working with a concrete situation, with actual
problems, it is expected that both the diagnosis of the situation and
resulting proposals be based on the collection and analysis of data and
information (ROESCH, 1996), which, in turn, need instruments that favor
their accomplishments. These instruments can be understood as research
methods and techniques themselves, distinguished by a quantitative and
qualitative perspective. In this respect, in general terms, Collis and
Hussey (2005) mention that a quantitative method involves the collection
and analysis of numerical data and the application of statistical test,
while a qualitative method is more subjective and involves examinaton
and reflection about perceptions with a view to understanding social and
human activities. However, despite the unquestionable importance of
methods and techniques to carry out any research with scientific rigor,
literature does not converge on its classifications, especially with
respect to the methods and techniques for quantitative and qualitative
data collection and analysis in the social sciences (BUNGE, 1980).
It is in this context that this study aims to analyze the
quantitative and qualitative methods and techniques in the studies
presented at the 5th and 6th USP accountancy and controllership
Congresses, so as to present a panorama of what this research is using
in methodological terms. Moreover, the goal is to classify each article
in the method and technique categories, in line with literature about
this subject, through content analysis and, next, through multivariate
analysis techniques, with a view to presenting the study tendencies,
whose methodological steps are shown in section 3 of this study.
2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The quality of a research does not only depend on the adequacy of
it planning, but also on the productivity of the measurement processes
that are used. In this sense, a measurement process consists in a
technique to join data, besides a set of rules to use these data
(SELLTIZ et al, 1975). Departing from the premise that measurement is
important, as mentioned by the authors, this study covers the methods
and techniques used, as means and forms of achieving the outlined
objective, respecting some authors' classification, as exposed
In science, methods constitute basic instruments that order thought
into systems, outlining how scientists should proceed during their
research in an orderly way, so as to reach the objective they set
(TRUJILLO, 1982; GIL, 1999). Some authors, like Marconi and Lakatos
(2005), claim that methods are divided into inductive and deductive;
according to Selltiz et al, in social sciences, observation,
sociometric, projective and other indirect methods exist. Martins (1994)
states that the general concept of method had not been consolidated
until the start of the XVIIth century, despite its birth in the
classical Greek period. He also mentions that the first modern thinkers
in this area were Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes. Bacon defended the
inductive method, while Descartes believed in analysis and deduction.
According to Martins (1994), the scientific method is applied to
the social sciences as from the end of the last century, and a large
part of the advances observed over time are due to Comte's positive
philosophy and to the Marxist philosophy. However, the same author
comments that the expression scientific method can induce to the belief
that it consists of a set of exhaustive and infallible rules while, in
fact, what exists is a scientific research strategy, with general and
particular techniques and peculiar methods for different sciences.
In view of the above, in their work, authors like Collis and Hussey
(2005) demonstrate a separation between quantitative and qualitative
data. In this respect, in his research, Martins (1994) found that
approximately 50% of research in this area use quantitative
Besides the so-called quantitative studies, qualitative research
exists. According to Trivinos (1987), it is characterized by the non-use
of statistical instruments in data analysis, being essentially
descriptive and frequently using transcriptions of interviews and
testimonies. The logics and coherence of its arguments are based on a
range of techniques, such as formal and informal interviews, field
observation, historical analysis, ethnography. According to Richardson
(1999), this kind of research is characterized by the attempt to get a
detailed understanding of the meanings and situational characteristics
presented by individuals and the environments they work in. Alassutari
(1995) contributes by mentioning that the definition of qualitative
research does not imply excluding some quantitative analyses of
Some studies that used to be strictly quantitative started to use
the qualitative methodology in order to understand some phenomena that
could not be defined a priori, in the attempt to overcome, for example,
a limitation in surveys--the tendency to generalize and the difficulty
to interpret more symbolic perception, and the characteristic of
questionnaire-based studies, whose findings are necessarily limited by
relevancy judgments or by the researcher's imagination when data
are compiled (SCHOREDER, 1999). Martins (1994) asserts that conventional
research can be understood as studies based on quantitatively generated
empirical data, collected and processed objectively and neutrally, while
non-conventional research uses qualitative analyses. According to the
author, this gives rise to expressions like qualitative research,
qualitative methodology, among others.
In view of the above and considering the absence of unanimity among
authors about methods and techniques, this study constructed a
theoretical base to analyze the results.
2.1 Methods and Techniques
According to Trivinos (1987), it cannot be affirmed that
qualitative research uses different instruments for data collection than
quantitative studies, such as questionnaires, interviews and observation
for example. Hence, this study will focus on the instruments used for
data analysis, as data collection tools cannot be separated into
quantitative and qualitative.
Various authors look at qualitative research and, consequently, the
methods and techniques it uses, and some call it the qualitative
approach. Yin (2001), for example, refers to the case study as a
fundamentally qualitative strategy, and other authors agree with this
idea (TULL; HAWKINS, 1976). Neuendorf (2002) and Bardin (1995) highlight
content analysis as a qualitative research instrument, although Trivinos
(1987) defines it as a method that can be used in both quantitative and
Martins (1994) and Selltiz, Wrightsman and Cook (1981) add
assessment research to this list, which is applied to assess social
improvement programs, and participant research, which is a social
research focus that seeks the community's participation in the
analysis of its reality, with a view to promoting social participation
for the benefit of the research participants. Moreover, studies can be
found that present action-research, which, according to Roesch (1996),
joins theory and practice, which distinguishes it from other qualitative
research foci. Other instruments, such as historical research and
discourse analysis (MARTINS, 1994), as well as the triangulation
technique, defended by Yin (2001), are similarly evidenced in
Besides these approaches considered as qualitative, among the
consulted authors, methods and techniques can be observed that are
classified as quantitative. Due to the lack of unanimity among them and
to make this study possible, a classification similar to Martins (1994)
was adopted as the base, added with other authors. The classification
is: a) descriptive statistics; b) inter-variable relationship; c)
non-parametrical techniques; d) inferential statistics; e) multivariate
analysis; f) financial mathematics; g) operational research, whose
adaptation will be properly presented in section 3.
According to Maroco (2003) and Collis and Hussey (2005),
descriptive statistics is an exploratory data analysis that can be
univariate or bivariate. This includes frequency distributions,
percentages, position and dispersion measures, histograms. (BRYMAN,
CRAMER, 1999; HAIR et al., 2005). The relation between variables
contains Pearson's Correlation (NETER et al.,1996), which measures
the relationship degrees between two variables; Bartlet's
Sphericity Test (HAIR et al, 2005); Kaiser--Meyer--Olkin's Measure
(KMO) (HAIR et al., 2005; PESTANA; GAGEIRO, 1998); Lilliefors' and
Kolmogorof-Smirnoff's (Normality) Test (LILLIEFORS, 1967);
Chi-Square Test (HAIR et al. 2005). Some non-parametrical techniques for
related and non-related samples are the Ansari-Bradley, Wilcoxon,
Mann-Whitney, Kruskal Wallis Tests, among others.
Inferential statistics consists in a set of analytical techniques
used to identify and characterize relations between variables (SELLTIZ,
WRIGHTSMAN, COOK, 1987). It permits inferences based on univariate and
multivariate sample findings. Some of its components are: hypothesis
test, dispersion of dispersion, correlation coefficient, regression
analysis, time series analysis (DEGROOT, 1975; WONNACOTT, WONNACOTT,
Multivariate analysis included factor analysis (HAIR et al. 2005;
PESTANA, GAGEIRO, 1998); Discriminant analysis (HAIR et al, 2005;
JOHNSON, WICHERN, 2002; PESTANA, GAGEIRO, 1998); Linear and Multiple
Regression (HAIR et al, 2005; JOHNSON, WICHERN, 2002; NETER et al.,
1996; PESTANA, GAGEIRO, 1998); Survival Analysis (GREENACRE, BLASIUS,
1994); Conglomerate or Cluster Analysis (SHARMA, 1995; HAIR et al,
2005); Correspondence Analysis: simple (ANACOR) or multiple
correspondence analysis (HOMALS) (CARVALHO, 2004; HAIR et al, 2005;
JOHNSON, WICHERN, 2002; PESTANA, GAGEIRO, 1998).
The financial mathematics category includes quantitative studies
aimed at testing preexisting models, or the construction of numerical
didactical examples, while operations research (OP) aims to provide
quantitative tools for the decision-making process. The latter consists
of a set of techniques like Linear Programming, Queuing Theory,
Simulation, Dynamic Programming, Game Theory etc. According to Wagner
(1985) constructing models is the essence of the OP approach.
This theoretical reference framework served as the base for this
research, whose methodology will be discriminated next.
3.1 Sample Description
The sample consisted of the articles presented at the 5th and 6th
USP Controllership and Accountancy Congresses, held in 2005 and 2006,
respectively, taken from the congress annals, totaling a sample of 250
3.2 Methodological Procedures
This study, with a critical-analytic approach, analyzed the
methodological classifications of the articles presented at the above
mentioned congresses. Content analysis was used to analyze and classify
the articles. According to Neuendorf (2002, p.1) "it can be defined
as the qualitative, objective and systematic analysis of the
characteristics of messages" or "a set of communication
analysis techniques aimed at obtaining, through systematic and objective
procedures to describe the message contents, indicators that permit
inferring knowledge about the conditions these messages were
produced/received in" (BARDIN, 1995, p. 42).
The categories used to classify the quantitative methods and
techniques were adapted from studies by Martins (1994), and the
classifications adopted for the articles with a qualitative approach
were constructed according to the bibliographic research that was
carried out. Thus, the following categorization was considered:
Chart 1--Qualitative and quantitative methods and techniques
Each category informed in chart 1 was considered quantitative or
qualitative, in line with the scope of each article under analysis.
Categories 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 13 were classified as quantitative,
in this study, and the remainder as qualitative because of their
non-quantitative essence. This will be better specified in data
analysis. Besides these two (qualitative and quantitative), a third
category was created to cover articles that jointly used qualitative and
quantitative techniques, that is, that could be understood as partially
quantitative and partially qualitative.
In this analysis, the following variables were verified in each of
the articles: concentration area (accounting applied to external users,
controllership and management accounting, financial credit and capital
markets, teaching and research, emerging themes); classification
(qualitative, quantitative or quali-quantitative), if the article
contained a specific chapter that evidenced the methodology, that is, if
the article was explicitly informing about the methods and techniques
used, and if the article presented hypotheses.
Later, the collected data were subject to quantitative analysis and
duly treated, using correspondence analysis. According to Carvalho
(2004) and Pestana and Gageiro (1998), simple correspondence analysis
uses nominal (categorical) data and possible association procedures
among them, depending on the number, level and degree of complexity of
the variables under analysis. According to those authors, these analyses
permit revealing the relations between the variables and their different
levels in a visual way. This was chosen because the intention was to
appoint the tendencies in the categories, classification and
concentration area of the congress articles.
4. RESULTS AND ANALYSES
Analysis of publications in USP congress annals
In the research carried out in the annals of the USP controllership
and accountancy congresses between 2005 and 2006, 250 articles were
identified. The number of articles presented and published in the USP
congress increased from the first to the second year, from 100 articles
presented in 2005 to 150 in 2006, representing a 50% increase. There was
also a considerable increase in the number of articles related to the
concentration areas. The area that registered the smallest increase, 8%,
was emerging themes, while the teaching and research area grew by 367%,
as evidenced in graph 1 and table 1 on next page.
Graph 1 shows the evolution in the number of articles between 2005
and 2006. Accounting applied to external users registered an 88%
increase from one year to the other, management accounting and
controllership grew by 70%, financial credit and capital markets
registered a smaller increase by 27%, research and teaching displayed
the biggest increase, as mentioned above, and emerging themes grew by
only 8% from 2005 to 2006.
Two hundred and fifty articles were identified: 19.68% on
accounting applied to external users, 24.89% related to management
accounting and controllership, 20.10% about financial credit and capital
markets, 6.82% refer to research and teaching, and 28.51% to emerging
themes. Table 1 shows the number of articles published per area in the
congress annals and their growth percentage.
Besides these observations, before presenting the methods and
techniques that represent the study objective, it was also verified if
the articles under analysis contained a specific chapter on the research
methodology and if their constructs and empirical research were based on
hypotheses. That is because it is considered that a scientific article
should transparently reveal what techniques and methods were used in its
development, that is, these item should be explicit and, in this sense,
highlighted in a specific section in each article. The result of this
specific objective is shown in Table 2 below:
Table 2--Incidence of methodology chapters and hypotheses
It is perceived, in general lines, that the articles were more
concerned with highlighting the methodological procedures, methods and
techniques in a separate chapter in 2005. Anyway, it can be inferred
that, if the article does not clearly present the procedures, methods
and techniques, its analysis is naturally impaired. In these cases, it
is perceived that some articles mentioned the adopted method and
techniques in the introductory chapter, others only in the abstract,
while still others left them implicit, so that they had to be understood
exclusively in the results chapter.
Hypotheses predominated in quantitative articles, and many were not
explicitly exposed. In this scenario, these hypotheses were ignored,
that is, only the central hypotheses were considered, which composed the
primordial idea of the study. The details related to the evidence
exposed until then will be detailed in the categories this study has
proposed in the subsequent sections.
Methods and techniques used
Table 3 adds up the figures related to the methods and techniques
in each year under analysis. It is highlighted that the classification
used here basically considered if the essence of the article was
qualitative or quantitative, considering the theoretical framework.
Documentary, bibliographic, description/narration and
proposal/discussion of a theoretical model grew by 42% and 28%
respectively in the time interval under study. Articles that used
multivariate analysis did not register the same significant increase as
the other categories mentioned above, totaling 22%. Most of these
articles used regression and discriminant analysis. This line includes
inferential statistics, for which the correlation coefficient and
regression analysis stand out, with a 20% increase from 2005 to 2006.
Projective methods did not vary between both years. Only action research
and bibliometrics showed a decrease by 134% and 50%, respectively.
In view of the above, it is inferred that the most used methods and
techniques in both congresses were: multivariate analysis--quantitative;
documentary, bibliographic, description/narration qualitative, and
proposal/discussion of theoretical model--qualitative. On the other
hand, the least used methods and techniques were: action
research--qualitative; bibliometrics--quantitative , and projective
methods--qualitative, despite efforts to use new methods and techniques
suggested for research in social sciences. Greater emphasis on the
qualitative and quantitative classifications can be contemplated next,
in section 4.3.
Tendencies observed in quantitative and qualitative classifications
After analyzing the result frequencies, correspondence analysis was
performed between the classification and area variables. ANACOR is an
exploratory technique that studies the relation between two qualitative
variables, in this case classification and area, and also helps to
connect area and methodological procedures. The percentage maps below
show the association between the classification and area variables in
2005 and 2006.
It is perceived that, in 2005, the concentration area financial
credit and capital market is more associated with the quantitative
classification. This association corroborates the perception of this
area due to the fact that most of the articles contain regressions,
factor analysis and descriptive statistics. The emerging themes area, on
the other hand, is more associated with the qualitative classification,
and contains many theoretical discussions about recent themes that have
received little in-depth attention in the academy. The research and
teaching area, in turn, is more associated with the quali-quantitative
classification, with many studies that jointly use content analysis and
descriptive statistics or bibliometrics.
Accounting for external users and management accounting and
controllership are not strongly associated with any of the dimensions.
This is due to the fact that, in accounting for external users, in
general, the authors do not prefer the qualitative or quantitative
dimension, like in the three areas described above. In management
accounting and controllership, a quantitative tendency is perceived,
encouraged by the use of descriptive statistics and financial
Slight alterations in this scenario are perceived in 2006. The
financial market area remains more associated with quantitative studies,
emerging themes with qualitative, and management accounting and
controllership reinforce the quantitative tendency observed in 2005 even
more, accounting applied to external users remains unaltered and the
teaching and research area demonstrates a more qualitative tendency,
using content analysis with a frequency distribution only.
This study proposed an analysis of the quantitative and qualitative
methods and techniques adopted in research presented at the 5th and 6th
USP Controllership and Accountancy Congress, so as to present a scenario
of what these studies are using and what classifications are observed.
Initially, it was through descriptive analysis that, among the
concentration areas adopted by the congress, the area that stands out in
terms of the total number of articles is emerging themes (28.51%),
followed by management accounting and controllership (24.89%) and the
financial credit and capital markets (20.10%), with lower percentages
for accounting applied to external users and teaching and research. As
to the variation between 2005 and 2006, the area with the greatest
growth was teaching and research, followed by accounting applied to
external users and management accounting and controllership, while the
smallest growth was found in the financial credit and capital market and
emerging themes areas.
It addition, it was observed that, in 2005, 76% of the articles
highlighted their methods and techniques in a specific methodology
chapter, indicating greater clarity and scientific rigor in this
respect, against 73% in 2006. Only 25% of the articles in 2005 and 37%
in 2006 explained hypotheses for testing. This percentage is
fundamentally linked with the quantitative classification.
When specifically looking at the quantitative methods and
techniques used in the papers under study, the predominance of
operations research, financial mathematics, non-parametrical techniques
and descriptive statistics was observed. Considerable figures were found
for qualitative methods and techniques, concentrated in content and
documentary/bibliographic description/narration analysis. The use of
action research and bibliometrics decreased from 2005 to 2006.
Through the use of correspondence analysis, it was detected that
the quantitative classification is strictly connected with the financial
credit and capital market area, as most of the articles in this area use
statistical techniques. On the counterpart, the emerging themes area
more closely approached the qualitative classification, with the
predominance of theoretical discussions. As to the third classification
constructed for this study, quali-quantitative research, it could be
related with the research and teaching area, whose articles essentially
use content analysis, descriptive statistics and bibliometrics.
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1 Descriptive statistics (frequency distribution, percenta
jes, position and dispersion measures)
2 Relation between variables (linear correlation coefficient;
chi-square test, contingencycoefficient, Lilliefors and
Kolmogorof test--normality; Pearson; Bartlett sphericity;
Kaiser- Me er-Olkin measure)
3 Non-parametrical techniques (Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney,
4 Inferential statistics (hypothesis tests, dispersion of
dispersion; correlation coefficient;regression analysis;
5 Multivariate analysis (linear and multiple regression;
discriminant; factor; cluster andcorrespondence--ANACOR,
HOMALS, PRINCIPALS, OVERALS)
6 Financial mathematics
7 Operations research (linear programming, queuing theory,
games, simulation, inventoryoptimization
8 Documentary, bibliographic, description/narration
9 Action research
10 Content analysis
11 Proposal/discussion of theoretical model
12 Projective methods
Table 1--Number of articles per area
Areas 2005 2006 Variation % Total
ACC. APPLIED TO EXT. USERS 17 32 88% 1,968
MANAGEMENT ACC. AND CONTR. 23 39 70% 2,489
FIN. CRED. AND CAPITAL MARKETS 23 28 27% 2,010
RESEARCH AND TEACHING 3 14 367% 682
EMERGING THEMESS 34 37 8% 2,851
Total 100 150 100
Table 3--Incidence of methodological procedures per area
Methods and techniqes 2005 2006 2005 2006
Descriptive statistics 0 3 3 2
Intervariable relation 2 2 1 3
Non-param. techniques 1 4 1 1
Inferential statistics 1 3 1 1
Multivariate analysis 3 1 2 7
Financial mathematics 1 2 1 4
Operations research 0 1 0 4
Doe/bibliog. Desc/narration 5 11 7 13
Action research 0 0 2 0
Content analysis 1 3 0 0
Theoretical model 3 2 5 3
Projective methods 0 0 0 1
Bibliometrics 0 0 0 0
Total 17 32 23 39
Methods and techniqes 2005 2006 2005 2006
Descriptive statistics 2 5 1 1
Intervariable relation 3 1 0 1
Non-param. techniques 1 1 0 1
Inferential statistics l 1 0 0
Multivariate analysis 10 1 0 2
Financial mathematics 2 3 0 1
Operations research 1 2 0 0
Doe/bibliog. Desc/narration 2 2 1 2
Action research 0 0 0 1
Content analysis 1 1 0 2
Theoretical model 0 0 0 2
Projective methods 0 0 0 0
Bibliometrics 0 0 1 1
Total 23 28 3 14
Methods and techniqes 2005 2006
Descriptive statistics 0 1
Intervariable relation 0 2
Non-param. techniques 1 2
Inferential statistics 2 1
Multivariate analysis 8 6
Financial mathematics 1 2
Operations research 1 3
Doe/bibliog. Desc/narration 13 1
Action research 1 0
Content analysis 2 1
Theoretical model 3 7
Projective methods 1 0
Bibliometrics 1 0
Total 34 37
Methods and techniqes 2005 2006 Gen.
Descriptive statistics 6 1 18
Intervariable relation 6 9 15
Non-param. techniques 4 9 13
Inferential statistics 5 6 11
Multivariate analysis 23 2 51
Financial mathematics 5 1 17
Operations research 2 1 12
Doe/bibliog. Desc/narration 28 4 68
Action research 3 1 4
Content analysis 4 7 11
Theoretical model 11 1 25
Projective methods 1 1 2
Bibliometrics 2 1 3
Total 100 150 250
Tests in the studies presented at both congresses.