UNT student lands internal audit award to study how data analytics can improve decision-making

DENTON (UNT), Texas — University of North Texas accounting doctoral candidate Megan Seymore, CPA, has been awarded the $10,000 Michael J. Barrett Doctoral Dissertation Grant to study how visualizations of big data and differing data sources influence decision-making in internal audits.

The grant comes from the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Internal Audit Foundation, which typically awards only one or two Barrett winners per year.

The award will help fund Seymore’s doctoral research, in which she is examining the way data analytics and different sources for information can alter business judgments. Internal audit reports have traditionally been text-heavy documents. However, auditors are increasingly incorporating charts, graphs and other visuals into the documents to help explain results from large data sets.

“Different visualizations can influence how easily someone understands the information and how willing they are to rely on that information,” Seymore said.

Additionally, business decisions are increasingly made from multiple sources of information, including financial and non-financial data. Seymore wants to better understand how individuals respond when conflicting data sources exist.

“I hope to learn whether managers have a bias towards financial data compared to non-financial data sources, and whether the type visualization can help reduce any bias that may exist,” she said.

Seymore’s primary research interests are in judgment and decision-making in auditing and interventions to improve judgment quality. She is specifically interested in examining how factors of the internal audit environment influence internal auditors’ judgments and the relationship between auditors and managers and the quality of judgments made by both parties. Prior to starting her doctorate, Seymore was an engagement director for CliftonLarsonAllen. Seymore earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and business administration-accounting from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and her master’s in business administration from North Carolina State University.

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