Error Research and Spreadsheet Error Research: General

Panko, R. R. (1997-2000) What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors, Working Paper, Honolulu, HI 96822: Information Systems Department, College of Business Administration, University of Hawaii.

This is a survey of research on spreadsheet errors as of 2005. The working paper is an expanded version of a paper of the same name that was published in the Journal of End User Computing’s special issue on Scaling Up End User Development, which will be published in Spring, 1998, 15-21.

Panko, R. R. (2000), "Spreadsheet Risks. What We Know. What We Think We Can Do." Proceedings of the Spreadsheet Risk Symposium, European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (EuSpRIG), Greenwich, England, July 17-18, 2000.


Fifteen years of research studies have concluded unanimously that spreadsheet errors are both common and non-trivial. Now we must seek ways to reduce spreadsheet errors. Several approaches have been suggested, some of which are promising and others, while appealing because they are easy to do, are not likely to be effective. To date, only one technique, cell-by-cell code inspection, has been demonstrated to be effective. We need to conduct further research to determine the degree to which other techniques can reduce spreadsheet errors.

Harvard Business Review, "Spreadsheet Risk: How and Why to Build a Better Spreadsheet," September-October, 1996, pp. 10-12.

The short review paper was written by the editorial staff of Harvard Business Review. Although it contains limited information, it is widely available and was widely read.

Cragg, P. B. & King, Malcolm (1992). A Review and Research Agenda for Spreadsheet Based Systems in End User Computing, (

Spreadsheet based systems are an important part of end-user computing (EUC), yet they have received relatively little attention in the EUC research literature. A review of the literature is offered in order to stimulate research. The review is based on the Ives et al (1980) research framework for MIS. A total of 57 papers are reviewed, covering a broad range of topics, including the framework's major areas of environment, process and system. Most papers are shown to concentrate on issues associated with one area, rather than consider relationships involving variables in two or more areas. This shows that there are many research topics which are relatively unexplored and specific research questions are proposed. In general, the review identifies a need for more research on spreadsheets in natural settings, particularly concentrating on cause and effect relationships.

Panko, Ray, "Finding Spreadsheet Errors," Informationweek, May 20, 1995, Final Word, p. 100.

A single-page article in an editorial page at the back of the magazine. Again, contains limited information but widely read.

Panko, R. R. & Halverson, R. H., Jr. "Spreadsheets on Trial: A Framework for Research on Spreadsheet Risks," Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Vol. II, Kihei, Hawaii, Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press, January 1996, pp. 326-335.

This is a summary of spreadsheet research to 1995. It also contains a framework for understanding spreadsheet research issues.

Reason, J. Human Error, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

This is the most definitive source for research on human error in general. Contains the GEMS (Generic Error Modelling System) framework for describing human cognition and errors.

Panko, R.R., End User Computing: Management, Applications, and Technology, New York: Wiley, 1988.

Discusses issues in the management of end user computing projects in general. Presents basic rules for creating spreadsheets.

Copyright Panko 1997-2005.