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CELEBRATE! profile: Katherine Korol

An accounting major who is well-versed in information science delves into how auditing for fraud is evolving during this era of Big Data. 

​CELEBRATE! Week offers an annual opportunity to highlight the academic and artisitic achievements of Elon students and faculty. Each day this week, we'll be putting the spotlight on a student scholar's research — what they are seeking to find out, and how they became interested in their project. 

Name: Katherine A. Korol

Major: Accounting

Minor: Information science

Faculty mentor: Catherine Chiang, associate professor of accounting

Title of research: Fraud Auditing in the Era of Big Data


We live in a world of Big Data, where data is generated in great volume, high velocity, and a wide variety of formats. The availability of Big Data has called for the development and use of technology to efficiently process and analyze these large volumes and varieties of data for auditing purposes.

In this research, I examine the impact of Big Data on fraud auditing and study changes to fraud auditing procedures, auditing standards and the auditor's role due to the increasing use of Big Data technology. Innovative data analytic tools are implemented to automate audit procedures that were performed manually prior to Big Data. Consequently, current standards on fraud examination and the role of the auditor in the audit process will need to be re-evaluated.

Through the use of literature review, interviews and an online survey, this study identifies the specific changes that are already being implemented and anticipated future changes in the auditing process and standards as a result of Big Data.

In other words:

Auditing is the process of conducting a systematic review of a company’s financial statements to provide reasonable assurance that they are fairly stated. The volume of Big Data makes it easier for fraud to be concealed, so the auditing profession needs to be reevaluated to incorporate more sophisticated technology that can handle this data.

The incorporation of this technology will change the process of the audit as well as the standards that govern it. As a result, the role of auditors in fraud detection in the future will also shift. This research discusses all of these changes based on input from practicing auditors.

Explanation of study: 

I interviewed and surveyed accountants at firms of various sizes to find out their perceptions of the changes within accounting due to Big Data. I also examined auditing standards to find out how they will need to be updated to account for these changes. 

What made this research interesting to you? How did you get started?

Auditing is a huge part of the accounting profession. However, I am also interested in information science and data analytics, which I learn a lot about with my minor. I wanted to research something that aligned with my interests from both my major and my minor, and with the help of my mentor I decided on this topic.

Technology is rapidly changing the way that business is done, and as an aspiring accountant I have often wondered what the future of my profession might look like. Automation has taken away a lot of jobs, but I think that my research provides some relief for accountants because it explains that although their role will shift, their professional knowledge can never be completely replaced by technology. If anything, Big Data technology will assist in creating a more efficient and effective audit, and it will thus be more likely that auditors will detect fraud.

A lot of studies have discussed the impact that technology might have on accounting but none have looked at what exactly that technology would look like and what that means for the auditors’ role and the standards that govern them. I started this study in the fall of my junior year and have learned a lot about the topic since. It is interesting to me because it gives me a glimpse into the near future of my profession, and I think it could be a resource for those currently in auditing who want information on how things might change for them. 



Owen Covington,
4/26/2017 11:05 AM