Subjects and developments within the CPA Journal (1993-2020) [Web Exclusive]

The CPA Journal, The Voice of the Profession, is the NYSSCPA’s flagship monthly publication and the primary resource for members. The journal has nationally focused content written by thought leaders in the accounting and finance industries.

For 90 years, the CPA Journal has built its reputation as an objective, critical source of information on topics of interest to CPAs. The journal offers analysis, perspectives, and commentary on the topics pertaining to the CPA profession. Main topics are accounting and auditing, taxes, personal financial planning, finance, technology, and professional ethics. The CPA Journal is published monthly in print and online ( and offers daily insights and analysis digitally on The journal’s editing and review processes, as published by the NYSSCPA, ensure thorough technical quality and material relevant to CPAs in public practice, industry, government, and education.

Despite the long history of the CPA journal, the authors are not aware of any recent efforts to summarize the emerging topics and trends in the journal. Previous articles have mainly focused on trends that are important to the accounting profession. The authors of this article addressed this niche by focusing on the articles published in the CPA Journal and using recently developed technology tools such as text mining and natural language processing (NLP). Text mining and NLP use the semantic properties of languages ​​and the frequency with which important terms are used to reveal patterns in a text. The authors of this article conducted text mining research on more than 5,179 articles in the CPA Journal (see Exhibits 1, 2) published from January 1993 to March 2020, and found that the CPA Journal did indeed contain numerous valuable articles Has provided on many important articles and current topics for the accounting profession.

Appendix 1 is a final list of the number of articles examined. Figure 2 shows the distribution of the articles over the years and over the identified subject areas.

Results of the research analysis

After a thorough analysis of the data, the research found an optimal number of nine main publication topics that closely match the priorities listed on the journal’s website. The following topics are grouped according to the extent of the variation they explain in the corpus of 5,179 articles. The nine main subject areas are:

  • Accounting auditing
  • Discounts & Taxes
  • Responsibilities & leadership
  • Income taxation
  • CPA profession
  • Pensions
  • Financial planning
  • technology
  • Financial accounting.

A review of Figure 3 shows the word clouds based on the top 30 terms from each of the nine topics as well as trend lines. Word clouds are images made up of words / concepts in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. As can be seen from the nine subject areas, the specific words / concepts are bigger and bolder when they appear in the word cloud. This gives the most appropriate name for each subject area. Figure 3 also shows a trend line for each topic over the period. Readers can interpret the terms in the word clouds and the trends in the charts along with the five articles listed in Appendix 4 for each topic. These articles are considered to be the most representative of their particular subject because of the frequent use of key terms for that particular topic. This interpretation of the data is discussed for the following two examples, but it can be applied to all of them.

Topic 2: Estates & Taxes

From the terms in the word cloud (Figure 3) and the five most representative articles (Figure 4), it can be seen that this topic focuses on estates and gift taxes. For example, picking some of the bigger terms like gift, estate, estate tax, and Internal Revenue Service will give you a clear definition. For example, under Theme 2 (Estates and Taxes), the article in this area has decreased significantly since the 1990s, which is in line with the tax treatment of estate tax in the later years (i.e. the higher exclusion amounts applicable in more recent years). Based on the data listed in the top five articles on Theme 2 (Estate and Gift Taxation), the number of articles published may have decreased, but the topic is still relevant.

Topic 4: Income Tax

From the terms in the word cloud (Figure 3) and the five most representative articles (Figure 4) it can be seen that this topic focuses on income tax. For example, choosing some of the bigger terms like tax, deduction, and tax law will give you a clear definition. Topic 4 (Income Tax) shows an increase in articles as would be expected given the passage of the Tax Reduction and Employment Act of 2017. This type of follow-up shows how effectively the CPA journal keeps pace with constant changes in tax law and how it affects the profession.

Top article

Figure 4 shows the top five articles with the highest topic scores for the top nine topics identified by the research analysis. These articles can be considered the most representative of the relevant topics.

Final thoughts

This analysis of text mining research of the articles in the CPA Journal from January 1993 to March 2020 shows that it is a must-have for accountants. These data show that the CPA Journal is an essential publication that provides great value to the profession.

Exhibition 1
Flowchart of the items included in the final corpus for analysis


Annex 2
The distribution of 5,179 articles over the years (a) and topics (b)


Annex 3
Word clouds and trend lines for any topic


Note: word clouds based on the top 30 terms (TF-IDF ranking) from each topic identified through latent semantic and topic analysis. Larger fonts show higher TF-IDF values ​​for each term, while similar colors have similar TF-IDF values.) T-1 = ACCOUNTING & AUDITING; T-2 = REAL ESTATE & GIFT TAX; T-3 = RESPONSIBILITY, LEADERSHIP & TRAINING; T-4 = income tax; T-5 = CPA PROFESSION; T = 6 PENSIONS; T-7 = FINANCIAL PLANNING; T-8 = TECHNOLOGY; T-9 = FINANCIAL STATEMENT

Appendix 4
Top five articles per topic

(Author, year) title T. Score
(Michelman and Waldrup 2008) Improve internal control over financial reporting 17.63
(Lin and Wu 2006) Limitations of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 08/17
(Submission 2016) What Auditors Need To Know About SOX Section 404 (a) Reports 15.40
(Turner 2020) Reform of the accounting profession 15.28
(Campbell, Campbell and Adams 2006) Create significant added value with internal controls 13.87
(Kasomenakis and Brody 2008) Property Rights of a Disinherited Spouse 6.65
(August 2017) Executor’s and beneficiary’s liability for unpaid income, gift and estate taxes on a deceased person 6.22
(Lynch 2014) Planning for New Jersey Inheritance Tax 5.25
(Moore 2006) Death and house sale win exclusion 4.83
(Katz and Katz 2011) What planners need to know about portability 4.80
(Rau, Nagle and Menk 2019) CPA exam performance 29.52
(Mounce and Spikes 2006) MAcc versus MBA: Can CPAs Deduct the Cost? 26.68
(Prather-Kinsey, Byrd and Allen 2019) Growing tax learning opportunities for students July 16
(Mastracchio Jr 2008) The role of NASBA and state boards in accounting education 15.46
(Bean and Bernardi 2005) Accounting Ethics Courses: A Professional Necessity 08/15
T-4: Income Tax
(Bourgeois et al. 2010) Tax Incentives to Go Green 19:59
(Hofmann 2019) Tax treatment of shared apartments 17.94
(Brown and Cosenza 2015) Evaluation of energy credits 14.94
(Ren, Sankara and Trimble 2020) The impact of the repatriation tax of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the financial statements 14.61
(Horan and Ferro 2019) Reduction of federal income tax through qualified charitable distributions 14.32
(Barry 2013) Internal audit received for now 16.87
(Barry 2012a) A government program that works for you 15.53
(Barry 2012b) New York CPAs: Your neighbors need you 14.72
(Barry 2011) CPAPAC: How does it work for you? 14.60
(Grumet 2008) Bring accounting into the 21st century 02/14
(Alwardt and Jacobs 2005) PBGC proposes changes to contractual penalties for participants 55.60
(Geller, Schulman and Wattenberg 1999) PBGC extends deadlines and relaxes certain penalties 45.36
(SH Ellner and Geller 1996b) New information for underfunded defined benefit plans 39.80
(SH Ellner and Geller 1996a) New disclosure requirement for underfunded defined benefit plans 39.14
(S. Ellner and Pennacchio 1993) Definitive Termination Provisions for the PBGC Plan 37.70
(Geller 2007) ERISA fiduciary responsibility and registered investment advisor 26.72
(Geller 2006) Subscriber-level Money Management account option 25.95
(Geller 2017) Retention of Fiduciary Investment Advisor: Employers need advance information, not a late statement 25.12
(Geller 2016b) Ministry of Labor finalizes regulation on old-age provision 24.51
(Geller 2016a) 401 (k) plan investment selection 23.76
(Anders and Fischer 2007) A clear look at tax software. (Cover story) 23.75
(Anders and Fischer 2008) A clear look at tax software 16.33
(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) 04/16
(Anders and Fischer 2016) Top choices in the control software 14.71
(Manuel and Herbold 2019) Using online calculators to choose between traditional and Roth IRAs 17.35
(Hulse 2009) What if Congress rejects Roth? 11.55
(Boyle and Litman 2010) The Roth Conversion Question 10.96
(Tuttle 2007) Premium financing 10.84
(VanZante and Fritzsch 2013) The advantages of Roth accounts 9.48

Ferhat Zengul, PhD, MAcc, is an assistant professor at the School of Health Professions;

Frank Messina, PhD, CPA, is the endowed Alumni & Friends Professor of Accounting at the Collat ​​School of Business. and

Marena Molay Messina, CPA, MAcc, is Visiting Lecturer in Accounting at the Collat ​​School of Business (and PhD student at Kennesaw State University), all at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).