The CPA Journal, “The Voice of the Profession,” is the NYSSCPA’s monthly flagship publication and top member resource. The Journal has nationally focused content written by thought leaders in the accounting and finance industry.

For 90 years, The CPA Journalhas been earning its reputation as an objective, critical source of information on issues of interest to CPAs. The Journal provides analysis, perspective, and commentary on the issues that affect the CPA profession. Major topics include accounting and auditing, taxation, personal financial planning, finance, technology, and professional ethics. The CPA Journal is issued monthly in print and online (http://www.cpajournal.com), and offers daily insight and analysis digitally on cpajournal.com. Published by the NYSSCPA, the Journal’s editorial and review processes ensure thorough technical quality and material relevant to CPAs in public practice, industry, government, and education.

Despite The CPA Journal’s long history of publication, the authors are unaware of any recent effort to summarize the emerging topics and trends within the Journal. Articles to date have mostly focused on trends that are important to the accounting profession. The authors of this article addressed this niche by focusing on the published articles in The CPA Journal and using recently developed technology tools including text mining and natural language processing (NLP). Text mining and NLP utilize the semantic properties of languages and the frequency of use of important terms to reveal patterns within a text. The authors of this article have performed text mining research on more than 5,179 CPA Journal articles (see Exhibits 1, 2) published from January 1993 to March 2020, and have found that The CPA Journal has indeed provided CPAs with numerous worthwhile articles on many important and timely topics for the accounting profession.

Exhibit 1 is a final list of the number of articles examined. Exhibit 2 illustrates the distribution of the articles over the years and across the identified topical areas.

Research Analysis Results

After extensive analysis on the data, the research revealed an optimum number of nine major publication topics, which align closely with the areas of focus listed on the Journal’s website. The following topics are ranked according to the amount of the variation that they explain in the corpus of 5,179 articles. The nine major topical areas are:

  • Accounting & Auditing
  • Estates & Taxation
  • Responsibilities & Leadership
  • Income Taxation
  • CPA Profession
  • Pensions
  • Financial Planning
  • Technology
  • Financial Accounting.

A review of Exhibit 3 reveals the word clouds based on the top 30 terms from each of the nine topics, along with trend lines. Word clouds are images composed of words/terms in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. As can be seen from the nine topical areas, the specific words/terms are bigger and bolder when each appears in the word cloud; this indicates the most appropriate name for each topical area. Exhibit 3 also provides a trend line for each topic over the time period. Readers can interpret the terms in the word clouds and the trends in the charts along with the five articles listed in Exhibit 4 for each topic. These articles are considered to be the most representative of their particular topic due to the high-frequency use of important terms for that particular topic. This interpretation of the data is discussed for the two examples below, but can be applied to all of them.

Topic 2: Estates & Taxation

Based on the terms within the word cloud (Exhibit 3) and the five most representative articles (Exhibit 4), one can see that this topic focuses on estates and gift taxation. For example, choosing some of the larger terms such as gift, estate, estate tax, and Internal Revenue Service, provides a clear definition. For example, under topic 2 (Estates & Taxation), the articles is this area have dropped off significantly from the 1990s, aligning with how estate taxation has been handled through tax law in the later years (i.e., the higher applicable exclusion amounts in more recent years). Based on the dates listed in top five articles for topic 2 (Estate & Gift Taxation), the quantity of published articles may have decreased, however, the topic has remained pertinent.

Topic 4: Income Taxation

Based on the terms within the word cloud (Exhibit 3) and the five most representative articles (Exhibit 4), one can see that this topic focuses on income taxation. For example, choosing some of the larger terms such as tax, deduction, and tax act, provides a clear definition. Topic 4 (Income Taxation) shows an increase in articles, as would be expected given the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This type of tracking shows how very effective The CPA Journal is in keeping up with constant changes in tax law and how it affects the profession.

Top Articles

Exhibit 4 displays the top five articles with the highest topic scores for the optimum nine topics revealed by the research analysis. These articles can be considered the most representative of the corresponding topics.

Final Thoughts

This text mining research analysis of the articles in The CPA Journal from January 1993 through March 2020 reveals that it is a must-read for accountants. This data indicates that The CPA Journal is an essential publication that provides excellent value to the profession.

 

Exhibit 1
Flow Diagram of the Included Articles in the Final Corpus for Analyses
NV-90_10-20_Messina_OO-X1

 

Exhibit 2
The distribution of 5,179 articles across the Years (a) and Topics (b)
NV-90_10-20_Messina_OO-X2

 

Exhibit 3
Word Clouds and Trend Lines for Each Topic
NV-90_10-20_Messina_OO-X3

Note: Word clouds based on top 30 terms (TF IDF ranking) from each topic, identified through Latent Semantic and Topic Analyses. Larger fonts indicate higher TF IDF values for each term, whereas similar colors similar TF IDF values) T-1= ACCOUNTING & AUDITING; T-2= ESTATES & GIFT TAXATION; T-3= RESPONSIBILITIES, LEADERSHIP & EDUCATION; T-4= INCOME TAXATION; T-5= CPA PROFESSION; T=6 PENSIONS; T-7= FINANCIAL PLANNING; T-8= TECHNOLOGY; T-9= FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING

 

Exhibit 4
Top Five Articles per Topical Area

 

(Author, Year)TitleT. Score
T-1: ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING
(Michelman and Waldrup 2008)Improving Internal Control Over Financial Reporting17.63
(Lin and Wu 2006)Limitations of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act17.08
(Levy 2016)What Auditors Need to Know about SOX Section 404(a) Reports15.40
(Turner 2020)Reforming the Auditing Profession15.28
 (Campbell, Campbell, and Adams 2006)Adding Significant Value with Internal Controls13.87
T-2: ESTATE & GIFT TAXATION
(Kasomenakis and Brody 2008)Property Rights of a Disinherited Spouse6.65
(August 2017)Executor and Beneficiary Liability for Unpaid Income, Gift, and Estate Taxes of a Decedent6.22
(Lynch 2014)Planning for the New Jersey Inheritance Tax5.25
(Moore 2006)Death and the Home Sale Gain Exclusion4.83
(Katz and Katz 2011)What Planners Need to Know About Portability4.80
T-3: RESPONSIBILITIES, LEADERSHIP & EDUCATION
(Rau, Nagle, and Menk 2019)CPA Exam Performance29.52
(Mounce and Spikes 2006)MAcc Versus MBA: Can CPAs Deduct the Costs?26.68
(Prather-Kinsey, Byrd, and Allen 2019)Growing Tax Experiential Learning Opportunities for Students16.07
(Mastracchio Jr 2008)The Role of NASBA and State Boards in Accounting Education15.46
 (Bean and Bernardi 2005)Accounting Ethics Courses: A Professional Necessity15.08
T-4: INCOME TAXATION
(Bourgeois et al. 2010)Tax Incentives of Going Green19.59
(Hofmann 2019)Tax Treatment of Home-Sharing Activities17.94
(Brown and Cosenza 2015)Evaluating Energy Credits14.94
(Ren, Sankara, and Trimble 2020)The Impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s Repatriation Tax on Financial Statements14.61
 (Horan and Ferro 2019)Reducing Federal Income Tax with Qualified Charitable Distributions14.32
T-5: CPA PROFESSION
(Barry 2013)Internal Audit Function Preserved–For Now16.87
(Barry 2012a)A Government Affairs Program That Works for You15.53
(Barry 2012b)New York CPAs: Your Neighbors Need You14.72
(Barry 2011)CPAPAC: How Does It Work for You?14.60
 (Grumet 2008)Bringing Accountancy into the 21st Century14.02
T-6: PENSIONS
(Alwardt and Jacobs 2005)PBGC Proposes Changes to Participant Notice Penalties55.60
(Geller, Schulman, and Wattenberg 1999)PBGC Extends Deadlines and Relaxes Certain Penalties45.36
(S.H. Ellner and Geller 1996b)New disclosures for underfunded defined benefit plans39.80
(S.H. Ellner and Geller 1996a)New disclosure requirement for underfunded defined benefit plans39.14
 (S. Ellner and Pennacchio 1993)PBGC final plan termination regulations37.70
T-7: FINANCIAL PLANNING
(Geller 2007)ERISA Fiduciary Responsibilities and Registered Investment Advisors26.72
(Geller 2006)Participant-Level Money Management Account Option25.95
(Geller 2017)Retaining a Fiduciary Investment Advisor: Employers Need Up-front Information, Not Belated Explanation25.12
(Geller 2016b)Department of Labor Finalizes Retirement Advice Regulation24.51
 (Geller 2016a)401(k) Plan Investment Selection23.76
T-8: TECHNOLOGY
(Anders and Fischer 2007)A Clear Look at Tax Software. (cover story)23.75
(Anders and Fischer 2008)A Clear Look at Tax Software16.33
(Anders and Fischer 2010)A Clear Look at Tax Software. (cover story)16.27
(Anders and Fischer 2011)2011 Annual Survey of New York State Tax Professionals. (cover story)16.04
 (Anders and Fischer 2016)Top Choices in Tax Software14.71
T-9: FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING
(Manuel and Herbold 2019)Using Online Calculators to Choose between Traditional and Roth IRAs17.35
(Hulse 2009)What If Congress Reneges on Roths?11.55
(Boyle and Litman 2010)The Roth Conversion Question10.96
(Tuttle 2007)Premium Financing10.84
 (VanZante and Fritzsch 2013)The Benefits of Roth Accounts9.48

 

 

 

Ferhat Zengul, PhD, MAcc, is an assistant professor in the school of health professions;
Frank Messina, PhD, CPA, is the endowed Alumni & Friends Professor of Accounting in the Collat School of Business; and
Marena Molay Messina, CPA, MAcc, is a visiting instructor of accounting in the Collat School of Business (and PhD student at Kennesaw State University), all at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).