Calcbench is used by academics around the world. Typically academics have used our platform for teaching or for research — but lately, we increasingly come across examples of academics who use Calcbench for both. Recently, we had the pleasure of talking with Anne Beatty, who uses the Calcbench platform in her advanced accounting course at Ohio State University and also incorporates Calcbench data into her research projects. Below are excerpts from our conversation. 

Why do you use Calcbench? 

Calcbench is super handy in class for one-off examples. Calcbench is also available to me to research what I teach in class, in a “big sample” way. 

For the advanced accounting class that I teach, I rely heavily on information that’s embedded in the footnotes of the financial statements. I show live examples in the classroom. Currently my students do not pull data from Calcbench as part of their assignments, although I may ask students to do so in the fall. One of the things that I like about Calcbench is that it's a single  license for the school and anyone at Ohio State, student or faculty, can use the platform with no additional cost.

Goodwill accounting is a topic that’s discussed in my classroom. I also wrote a paper on the topic using Calcbench data. The paper, Is the Goodwill Impairment-Only Model Broken? An Examination of Post-Acquisition Accounting for Goodwill versus Other Intangibles, (co-written with Scott Liao, vice dean, of undergraduate and specialized programs and professor of accounting at the University University of Toronto; and Joseph Weber, George Maverick Bunker professor of management and professor of accounting at MIT Sloan School of Management)  was presented at the 2024 Emerging Financial Reporting Issues Research Symposium in April 2024.

How do you use Calcbench? 

I use tools such as Compustat and Intelligize, but often I need more data that I can only get from the XBRL tags. I dig into the rules of accounting; the details and layers of data are important. For example, for the goodwill paper, I needed both finite-life and indefinite-life intangible assets. Other providers have accurate data, but they give you an aggregate. I want things broken out. I need to understand whether the intangible assets are amortizable or not. That’s where Calcbench comes in. 

Calcbench offers an amazing amount of data; the most challenging part is collecting it. Companies sometimes use different XBRL tags and you need to understand the reporting units that the goodwill is allocated to. With Calcbench, you can use the dimensions data to get that information. 

For many of my projects I can spend a lot of time searching for the needle in the haystack. For example, the elimination of intercompany inventory profits: with Calcbench you can usually find the tag and dimension for it. 

Lastly, I like the ability to search specific disclosure sections and go back to the originally posted data. For class, I am talking about consolidated worksheets, which is a fundamental part of the advanced accounting curriculum. I am also working on a project that looks at Guarantor subs and non-Guarantor subs, the parings and eliminations. I can search the debt disclosure text to get the information I need and I can also pull data from the tables embedded in the notes. 

What Calcbench features and functionality do you use? 

I use the Bulk Data, XBRL Raw Data Query, and Interactive Disclosure tools. I typically download the data into an Excel file.

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