Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer
Honors graduate Jenifer Axtell and business professors Wayne Tervo and Murphy Smith collaborated and put together “The Advent of Accounting: A Historical Analysis.” This began as an Axtell’s thesis in 2014 and has now won the Distinguished Research Award 2015 at the Allied Academies Fall Conference this past October in Las Vegas.
A year before Axtell had to write her thesis is when she said she was originally inspired to write about the history of accounting. The idea came while Axtell was sitting in a lecture from one of the professors that collaborated with her over a year later.
“I was actually inspired by a class with Dr. Smith a year before I began writing,” Axtell said. “He spoke on Luca Pacioli, the Father of Accounting, and it was the history of a subject I had studied since high school, but had never heard of before.”
Axtell said she never thought that her thesis might win an award.
“When I began working on it, I never dreamed that my thesis would do anything more than sit on my bookshelf acting as a conversation topic,” Axtell said.
Axtell said she wanted to write this thesis because she wanted people to know about the history of accounting. She said she learned a lot of useful rules, but she never learned the “why” aspect of accounting because she didn’t learn the history.
“Accounting is very rules based,” Axtell said. “Students learn a massive amount of rules and exceptions, but not where they originated from. I always found it difficult to understand the rule without knowing the ‘why’ behind it. Accounting has an interesting past that most people have never heard of.”
Now, over a year later, Axtell, Tervo and Smith are all still developing the paper in hopes to get it published in an academic journal, Smith said.
The path of this paper has been a long one, and Smith said it still has quite a far way to go before it gets published; with almost two years of work under their belts so far, he estimates another year at least having to be put into the development.
Both Smith and Axtell said this award has helped them stay motivated and focused to keep developing this paper in hopes of getting it published.
“The award is definitely encouraging,” Smith said. “This encourages us to keep working on it because it could potentially be published.”
However, Axtell said she finds a deeper importance in spreading the word about the history of accounting.
“I want people to read it, but only so they can see how interesting accounting can be,” Axtell said. “There are other subjects that we just learn rules without understanding the history behind it.”
Smith on the other hand, said he is hopeful for publishing, however he enjoys working with his students.
“I love being a professor at Murray State University, and I believe that we have some of the finest students in the world, and I always enjoy working with all our students,” Smith said.
Smith said this award encourages him and everyone working on developing this paper, but it should also inspire other students when working on their theses.
“It’s well worth the time and energy to do your very best work. It can have an impact on other scholars in your field,” Smith said.