Title: Thick data: adding context to big data to enhance auditability

Authors: Michael Alles; Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

Addresses: Department of Accounting and Information Systems, Rutgers Business School, One Washington Park, Room 928, Newark, NJ 07102-3122, USA ' Department of Accounting and Information Systems, Rutgers Business School, One Washington Park, Room 946, Newark, NJ 07102-3122, USA

Abstract: Big data is one of the most important developments in business this decade. In response, there are growing calls for auditors to themselves adopt big data techniques. In this paper, we argue that if auditors are to be successful in incorporating big data into their practices and take advantage of the undoubted potential of big data for more accurate analysis of the burgeoning data available about their clients, then they need to see big data as a means towards an end and not as an end in itself. Thick data is a new ethnographic approach that uncovers the meaning behind big data visualisation and analysis. When applied to auditing, thick data is about adding context to the enhanced quantitative analysis that big data promises. By using the medium of the analysis of the tone at the top, the thick data approach can be incorporated into auditing practice in a way that is consistent with established audit practice.

Keywords: big data; thick data; auditing; tone at the top; ethnography; audit practice.

DOI: 10.1504/IJAUDIT.2014.066237

International Journal of Auditing Technology, 2014 Vol.2 No.2, pp.95 - 108

Available online: 08 Dec 2014 *

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