Are XBRL files being accessed? Evidence from the SEC EDGAR log file dataset

Yu Cong, Hui Du, Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We provide evidence of whether users of financial reports are accessing XBRL files, the XBRL component of an SEC filing. The possibility of exempting small companies from the XBRL mandate was raised in a legislative debate in which some argued that XBRL files are not being used by small company investors. Using data from the EDGAR log file dataset, we counted the exact number of user accesses to the XBRL files and their corresponding conventional files in HTML, PDF, or text when users access financial disclosures for SEC filings. During the sample period of the third quarter of 2012 through the first quarter of 2015, we obtained 12,483,699 valid user accesses to 5,016 unique XBRL filings made by 880 small companies that are subject to the legislation. Among the user accesses, 61 percent are to access XBRL files, while 39 percent are to access the conventional (non-XBRL) files. The results suggest that small company investors not only access XBRL files but also prefer them to the non-XBRL files when both are available to download for a filing. Our direct measure of user access provides evidence of possible use of XBRL files by investors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Information Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Accounting
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Data analytics
  • Downloads of XBRL files
  • EDGAR log file dataset
  • XBRL


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