This paper examines the approaches accounting researchers use to draw causal inferences using observational (or non-experimental) data. The vast majority of accounting research papers draw causal inferences notwithstanding the well-known difficulties in doing so. While some recent papers seek to use quasi-experimental methods to improve causal inferences, these methods also make strong assumptions that are not always fully appreciated. We believe that accounting research would benefit from: more in-depth descriptive research, including a greater focus on the study of causal mechanisms (or causal pathways); increased emphasis on structural modeling of the phenomena of interest. We argue these changes offer a practical path forward for rigorous accounting research.