Spreadsheet bibliography

Title An experimental study of spreadsheet presentation and error detection
Authors Dennis Galletta, Kathleen S. Hartzel, Susan Johnson, Jimmie L. Joseph, & Sandeep Rustagi
Year 1996
Type Proceedings
Publication 29th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Series Volume 2, January, pages 336-345

Several well-founded concerns exist about the integrity and validity of electronic spreadsheets.

One hundred thirteen MBA students sought eight errors planted in a single-page spreadsheet to discover if differences in the presentation format would facilitate error-finding performance.

Five presentation formats were used. Spreadsheets were presented on the screen, both with and without formulas. Spreadsheets were also presented on paper with a list of formulas attached, or without formulas. A new integrated formula paper treatment was introduced, with formulas presented in each cell directly under each calculated value.

Subjects found, on average, only about 50% of the errors across all presentation formats. The on-screen treatments were clearly inferior to the paper treatments, whether or not formulas were presented.

Practitioners should be aware of the difficulties in finding even simple errors, especially on-screen, and should develop training programs to facilitate spreadsheet auditors' performance.

Full version Available
Also see Spreadsheet presentation and error detection: An experimental study (1997)
Error-finding performance
Error-finding performance

Participants were fastest when checking the spreadsheet on screen without formulas; but they also found the fewest errors.

The slowest treatment was checking the spreadsheet on paper without formulas; but this treatment also resulted in the highest proportion of errors being found.