Calcbench recently had the pleasure of (virtually) chatting with Rani Hoitash, the John E. Rhodes Professor of Accounting at Bentley University. Hoitash is one of the early adopters of XBRL, having developed an interest in the data-tagging technology even before the SEC began requiring companies to submit their filings tagged in XBRL. 

Q. What drove your interest in XBRL?

A: In the early 2000s I became interested in XBRL, but at that point companies were not required or allowed to use this technology to file their financial reports. As a researcher, one of my primary interests is in metadata. I focus on the tags that enable me to extract every aspect of accounting data. Prior to XBRL, no one could collect this level of richness.  

Q: You were one of the first academics to use our platform. How did you come across Calcbench? 

A: I heard from a friend that Calcbench had been extracting and collecting XBRL data and I jumped on the opportunity to work with them. My initial exposure to Calcbench was in the form of a flat data file. It was a huge file, with every piece of data they had. I used that data in my Accounting Review paper on Measuring Accounting Reporting Complexity with XBRL. What excited me about the data from Calcbench was that it wasn't normalized, the way it is with Capital IQ and others.  

Following the Accounting Review piece, I recently published another paper in Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory on eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL): A Review and Implications for Future Research. This paper summarizes past research and presents many opportunities for researchers. The paper also discusses practical implications and challenges in using XBRL, for example, XBRL data is currently not audited. We write in the paper that Calcbench is one of the major sources for those interested in working with XBRL data.

Q: How does Bentley University use Calcbench? 

A: I can’t speak to all the use cases, but some of my doctoral students are using Calcbench to extract text data from the filings. With Calcbench it’s easy to search for keywords. The platform is made for researchers who go beyond the numbers. There’s a lot of opportunity to analyze text data from the filings. With Calcbench, researchers can analyze text more efficiently and accurately. 

Q: When do you think XBRL will become mainstream?

A: Not everyone is aware that you can extract financial data without technical knowledge. Undoubtedly the awareness will come. We are living in an era of big data; investors, researchers and other stakeholders want more data, not less. The more people write about the power of XBRL, the more researchers and practitioners will take advantage of this great data source. 

Q: What do you want others to know about Calcbench? 

A: You can be a data expert without knowing the structure behind it. XBRL code can be very confusing. Calcbench is able to do the complex stuff for you. In addition, the level of richness is unparalleled. When I refer to the richness of XBRL, it is analogous to a kid going into a candy shop. For anyone who loves data, Calcbench gives you shelves full of data candy.

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