Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #302
CE Offered: BACB
The Role of Research Synthesis in Applied Behavior Analysis: Best Practices for Conducting Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses
Monday, May 29, 2023
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 2/3
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Mikhail Koffarnus (University of Kentucky College of Medicine)
CE Instructor: Michael Amlung, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: MICHAEL AMLUNG (University of Kansas)

Advancing research and clinical practice in applied behavior analysis requires critical evaluation and integration of the scientific literature. Synthesizing research across published and unpublished studies enables behavior analysts to make evidence-based decisions in clinical practice, evaluate potential sources of bias in the literature, and identify critical gaps in our understanding of behavioral science. Two common research synthesis approaches include systematic reviews and quantitative meta-analyses. These types of studies are distinct from other literature reviews due to their adherence to strict guidelines for conducting comprehensive literature searches, article screening, data extraction, data analysis, and reporting of results. This presentation will discuss the strengths and limitations of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in behavior analysis, with an emphasis on methodological recommendations and practical tools. Specific topics will include choosing a research question and defining the scope of the review, pre-registration, and adhering to international guidelines for conducting literature searches, study selection, data extraction, evaluating study quality and publication bias. An overview of common quantitative analyses used in meta-analyses and effective ways to present results will also be discussed. Finally, the presenter will share his experiences with software and database management tools for increasing efficiency and transparency at each phase of the review. Examples from published systematic-reviews and meta-analyses from the presenter’s research on behavioral economics of substance use and psychiatric disorders team will be discussed to illustrate the promise and pitfalls of these studies. The overall goal of this presentation is to provide attendees with methodological techniques for conducting reviews which can be translated to their respective specialty areas in applied behavior analysis.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and basic researchers with at basic, intermediate, and advanced experience levels. No prior experience with systematic reviews or quantitative analyses is required, but familiarity will be helpful for some of the advanced topics.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Discuss the strengths and limitations of conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses to advance research and clinical practice in applied behavior analysis; (2) Evaluate the importance of transparency and scientific rigor by discussing international guidelines for conducting systematic reviews and the role of pre-registration; (3) Determine best practices for conducting a review from start-to-finish, including defining a research question, conducting literature searches, study screening, data extraction and analysis, evaluating bias, and presenting results; (4) Acquire basic familiarity with available software and database tools for conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
MICHAEL AMLUNG (University of Kansas)
Dr. Michael Amlung is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas (KU). He also is the Associate Director for Training of the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment at KU. He received a M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology with a concentration in behavioral and brain sciences from the University of Georgia, followed by a NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Missouri. Prior to joining the faculty at KU, Dr. Amlung was a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University (Ontario, Canada). Dr. Amlung's research program examines the behavioral and neurobiological basis of addictive disorders and related mental health disorders, with an emphasis on behavioral economics and motivation for addictive substances. His research uses a variety of techniques including cue-exposure and self-administration studies in simulated bar and vaping cue laboratories, functional and structural brain imaging, and conducting research syntheses via systematic reviews and meta-analyses.



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