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Dr. Audrey Gramling

Think like an auditor: OSU professors propose applying audit standards to everyday decisions

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Media Contact: Jeff Hopper | Communications Coordinator | 405-744-1050 |

The amount of information that is available at our fingertips is mind-boggling. From the dates of the Franco-Prussian War to which dog breed has a certain temperament, how we ingest that information and decipher which can be considered valid or be used as evidence in a decision can be overwhelming.

Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Audrey Gramling and a team of her colleagues, however, have proposed that we may all be better served if we think like auditors. The School of Accounting professor believes that an auditing standard, recently adopted by the Auditing Standards Board, establishing the Audit Evidence Framework as a tool for auditors to evaluate information to be used as audit evidence, can be applied to a myriad of other applications in our everyday lives.

“This framework gives auditors a standard decision model that can help guide them through determining whether information can be used as evidence,” Gramling said. “However, that framework can be used for numerous other decision-making opportunities. For instance, when buying a car, what information should we use from what sources when making that important decision? This framework offers a way to help evaluate that information.”

The AEF stresses the importance of relevance and reliability when considering whether information should be used as evidence in the decision-making process or ignoring it as unnecessary or irrelevant. 

The decision-making framework also recognizes the presence of biases in information and the information evaluator. It reiterates the importance of taking those biases into consideration when determining the viability of information as evidence.

“This process for making decisions isn’t necessarily new to auditors,” Gramling said. “However, the AEF is a vetted, decision-making framework that has proven useful to auditors. We simply wanted to remind others that when dealing with information, whether from a wide variety of sources or a singular source, this framework could be a useful tool in evaluating that information.”

The reliability of news information is a widely debated topic that could be aided by the implementation of the AEF framework. If followed, the framework can help someone determine whether the information gathered is news, commentary or irrelevant information.

“This decision-making process is one that we encounter numerous times throughout our daily lives,” Gramling said. “However, given the abundance of information that we can access on any given topic, the framework can serve as a good reminder that we cannot assume that every piece of information we encounter is viable as a piece of evidence to be used to make an informed decision.”

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