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Charting the Course: Essential Research Articles in Applied Behavior Analysis

Research plays a pivotal role in shaping our understanding, refining interventions, and improving outcomes for learners across a wide range of settings. The table here provides a valuable resource to help you find relevant research articles that have made significant contributions to the field of ABA.

Applied behavior analysis is a scientific discipline focused on understanding and modifying human behavior through the application of empirically validated principles. By examining the relationships between behavior, the environment, and the consequences that follow, ABA provides a framework for addressing various challenges, such as improving communication skills, reducing maladaptive behaviors, and promoting independent living. We can’t take this responsibility lightly.

Here, we have carefully selected a collection of essential research articles that serve as pillars of knowledge in the field of ABA. These articles have been influential in shaping best practices, informing interventions, and furthering our understanding of human behavior. By presenting them in a convenient table format, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview that can guide professionals, researchers, students, and anyone interested in ABA towards valuable resources for further exploration.

By charting the course through these essential research articles, we hope to ignite your curiosity, deepen your knowledge, and inspire you to explore the fascinating world of applied behavior analysis. Join us on this journey as we navigate through the rich landscape of ABA research, highlighting key studies that have paved the way for advancements in the field.

ABA Fundamentals

ABC DataFor detailed research about ABC data collection, visit our post: ABC Data: The Key to Understanding Behavior.
Prompting, Prompt Fading, and the Prompt HierarchyFor detailed research about prompting, prompt fading, and the prompt hierarchy, visit our post: Prompt Hierarchy: A New Perspective.
Data Collection MethodsFor detailed research about continuous and discontinuous data collection methods, visit our post: Data Collection Methods: Continuous Vs Discontinuous Measurement In ABA
Pivotal Response TrainingFor detailed research about Pivotal Response Training, visit our post: What Is Pivotal Response Training (PRT)?
Cultural CompetencyFor detailed research about cultural competency, visit our post: Cultural Competency Training for ABA Practitioners: Best Practices and Benefits


Functional assessment of problem behavior: Dispelling myths, overcoming implementation obstacles, and developing new loreThe article discusses the importance of functional assessment in understanding and addressing problem behavior. It challenges common misconceptions surrounding functional assessment and emphasizes the need to overcome implementation obstacles. The article also highlights the significance of developing new knowledge and practices in this field. Overall, it advocates for a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to functional assessment that can lead to more effective interventions for problem behavior.
Generality of the practical functional assessment and skill‐based treatment among individuals with autism and mental health disordersThe article discusses the effectiveness of practical functional assessment and skill-based treatment for individuals with autism and co-occurring mental health disorders. The study found that these approaches were generally effective across a range of individuals, highlighting their applicability and usefulness in addressing behavioral challenges. By identifying the underlying functions of problematic behaviors and implementing targeted interventions, such as teaching alternative skills, these methods can contribute to improved outcomes for individuals with autism and mental health disorders. The findings suggest the potential for broad implementation of these approaches to benefit a wide range of individuals in clinical settings.

Skill Acquisition

Evaluation of the nonverbal reading approach for two 12 to 13-year-old students with ASDThis article evaluates the nonverbal reading approach’s effectiveness for two 12 to 13-year-old students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The approach focuses on nonverbal communication and comprehension skills. The study found that the nonverbal reading approach showed promising results for both students, improving their nonverbal reading abilities and comprehension. The approach provides an alternative method for teaching students with ASD who struggle with verbal communication. Further research is needed to explore its long-term effects and applicability to a larger population of students with ASD.
Emerging technologies and behavioural cusps: A new era for behaviour analysis?The article explores the potential impact of emerging technologies on the field of behavior analysis. It discusses how advancements like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and wearable devices can offer new opportunities for studying and modifying behavior. These technologies provide tools for collecting and analyzing data, creating immersive environments for behavior assessment and intervention, and delivering personalized interventions. The article highlights the need for behavior analysts to adapt their methods and embrace these technologies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their work. It suggests that this integration of emerging technologies could usher in a new era for behavior analysis.

Behavior Intervention Plans

Writing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)For a detailed table of research related to writing behavior intervention plans, visit our post: Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): The Complete Guide to Writing a Comprehensive Plan.
Functional Communication Training (FCT)For a detailed table of research related to functional communication training (FCT), visit our post: FCT: 7 Things You Need To Know About Functional Communication Training.
Token EconomyFor a detailed table of research related to implementing token economy, visit our post: Token Economy: Examples And Applications In ABA.
Premack PrincipleFor a detailed table of research related to implementing the Premack Principle, visit our post: Premack Principle: A Guide To Using The First/Then Rule.

Verbal Behavior

Verbal BehaviorFor a detailed table of research related to verbal behavior, visit our post Unraveling Verbal Operants: Understanding The Building Blocks Of Language.

Social Validity, Reliability and Fidelity

Exploring Quality in the Applied Behavior Analysis Service Delivery IndustryThe article explores the concept of quality in the applied behavior analysis (ABA) service delivery industry. It highlights the importance of defining and measuring quality in ABA services to ensure effective outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The authors discuss various dimensions of quality, including clinical competence, ethical practices, treatment fidelity, and client satisfaction. They emphasize the need for standardized assessments and guidelines to evaluate and improve quality in ABA service delivery. The article ultimately underscores the significance of quality assurance measures in promoting the overall effectiveness and impact of ABA interventions.
Social validity: the case for subjective measurement or how applied behavior analysis is finding its heartThis article discusses the importance of social validity in applied behavior analysis (ABA) and how subjective measurement is gaining significance. It emphasizes the need for ABA practitioners to consider the perspectives and values of individuals they work with, as well as the larger community. The article highlights the limitations of solely relying on objective measurements and proposes incorporating subjective measures to capture the impact of interventions on the quality of life. It concludes by emphasizing the role of social validity in enhancing the effectiveness and ethicality of ABA practices.
Parents’ experiences of home-based applied behavior analysis programs for young children with autismThe article discusses parents’ experiences with home-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs for young children with autism. The study explores the perspectives of parents who have implemented ABA therapy at home, highlighting their overall satisfaction, perceived benefits, and challenges faced during the process. The findings indicate that parents generally had positive experiences and observed improvements in their children’s behavior and skills. However, they also encountered challenges such as time commitment, financial strain, and limited social interactions. The study emphasizes the importance of understanding parents’ experiences to enhance the effectiveness and support of home-based ABA programs for children with autism.



Concerns About ABA-Based Intervention: An Evaluation and Recommendations 
The article evaluates concerns regarding Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-based intervention and offers recommendations. It highlights criticisms of ABA, such as its potential for coercion and the lack of focus on individuals’ autonomy and preferences. The authors suggest addressing these concerns by emphasizing ethical considerations, promoting collaboration between professionals and families, and integrating a person-centered approach. They emphasize the need for ongoing evaluation, research, and professional training to improve ABA interventions and ensure they align with the principles of respect, dignity, and individual choice.

Response to Leaf et al 
In this commentary, the authors critique a recent article by Leaf et al. (2021) that addresses concerns about ABA-based interventions raised by autistic individuals. They argue that the authors fail to adequately address these concerns and do not fully support neurodiversity, despite their intentions. The critique focuses on issues such as biased claims of ABA effectiveness, the potential for harm caused by ABA, the use of past human rights abuses to justify current practices, the lack of empirical support for recommended intervention intensity, and the inflexibility of therapist-determined goals.

Reflections on Behavior Analysis and Coercion
The article offers a critical perspective on the field of behavior analysis and its potential connection to coercive practices. The author highlights the importance of ethical considerations when applying behavior analysis techniques, emphasizing the need to prioritize consent, individual autonomy, and the avoidance of coercion. They argue that a comprehensive understanding of behavior should incorporate social and contextual factors, as solely focusing on observable behavior may overlook underlying issues. The article encourages practitioners to engage in thoughtful reflection and discussion regarding the potential misuse of behavior analysis and its impact on individuals’ well-being.

It’s important for professionals practicing in our field to carefully consider how our decisions impact the lives of the individuals we serve. There has been an increase in the debate about the use of ABA to “treat” autistics. For a detailed table of research related to this topic, visit our post: Understanding the Debate about ABA

Parent Training

Parent education and home-based behaviour analytic intervention: An examination of parents’ perceptions of outcomeThe article explores parents’ perceptions of the outcome of parent education and home-based behavior analytic intervention. It emphasizes the importance of involving parents in interventions for children with behavioral issues. The study examines parents’ perspectives on the effectiveness of the intervention and their satisfaction with the outcomes. Overall, the research highlights the positive impact of parent education and behavior analytic intervention on parents’ perceptions of their child’s behavior and development. The findings suggest that involving parents in interventions can lead to favorable outcomes and increased satisfaction with the intervention process.

Staff Training

Evidence-Based Staff Training: A Guide for PractitionersThe article titled “Evidence-Based Staff Training: A Guide for Practitioners” provides concise guidance on implementing effective staff training programs. It emphasizes the importance of evidence-based practices in training and highlights key steps for practitioners to follow. The article encourages the use of research-based strategies, such as needs assessments, clear learning objectives, active engagement, and ongoing evaluation. It emphasizes the need for continuous professional development and offers practical recommendations for designing, implementing, and evaluating staff training programs. The guide serves as a valuable resource for practitioners seeking to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their training initiatives.

Relationships and BCBA Behavior

Process Versus Content in Delivering ABA Services: Does Process
Matter When You Have Content That Works?
The article discusses the importance of process and content in delivering Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. While content refers to the specific interventions and techniques used in ABA, process refers to how these interventions are implemented. The author argues that both process and content are crucial for successful outcomes in ABA services. While having effective content is important, a well-defined process that includes individualized assessments, clear goals, ongoing monitoring, and collaboration with families enhances the effectiveness of ABA interventions. The article emphasizes the need for balance between process and content to optimize the delivery of ABA services.
Normative Emotional Responses to Behavior Analysis Jargon or How Not to Use Words to Win Friends and Influence PeopleThe article explores how the use of behavior analysis jargon can evoke negative emotional responses. It emphasizes the importance of clear and concise language to foster effective communication and avoid alienating others. The author highlights that jargon-heavy discourse can create barriers, hindering understanding and cooperation. By choosing language that is inclusive and accessible, individuals can enhance their ability to connect with others and positively influence their perspectives. The article underscores the significance of employing words that resonate with individuals’ experiences and emotions, rather than relying solely on technical terms, to promote collaboration and rapport.
Compassionate Care in Behavior Analytic Treatment: Can Outcomes be Enhanced by Attending to Relationships with Caregivers?The article explores the potential benefits of emphasizing compassionate care and building strong relationships with caregivers in behavior analytic treatment. It suggests that attending to these relationships can enhance treatment outcomes. By fostering collaboration, empathy, and open communication with caregivers, behavior analysts can create a supportive environment that promotes the well-being of both the individual receiving treatment and their caregiver. The article highlights the importance of considering the relational aspects of treatment alongside behavioral strategies to optimize overall effectiveness and improve the quality of care provided.
Behavioral Artistry: Examining the Relationship Between the Interpersonal Skills and Effective Practice Repertoires of Applied Behavior Analysis PractitionersThe article explores the connection between interpersonal skills and effective practice repertoires among practitioners of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). It highlights the significance of interpersonal skills, such as communication and rapport-building, in enhancing the outcomes of ABA interventions. The study emphasizes the need for ABA practitioners to develop a comprehensive set of interpersonal skills alongside their technical expertise. By combining both interpersonal skills and effective practice repertoires, ABA practitioners can improve their ability to connect with clients and optimize the effectiveness of behavioral interventions. The findings underscore the importance of a holistic approach in ABA practice.


Bottema-Beutel, K., & Pavlopoulou, G. (2021, December 3). Response to Leaf et al., 2021.

Callahan, K., Foxx, R. M., Swierczynski, A., Aerts, X., Mehta, S., McComb, M. E., … & Sharma, R. (2019). Behavioral artistry: Examining the relationship between the interpersonal skills and effective practice repertoires of applied behavior analysis practitioners. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders49, 3557-3570.

Chadwell, M. R., Sikorski, J. D., Roberts, H., & Allen, K. D. (2019). Process versus content in delivering ABA services: Does process matter when you have content that works?. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice19(1), 14.

Coffey, A. L., Shawler, L. A., Jessel, J., Bain, T., Nye, M., & Dorsey, M. F. (2021). Generality of the practical functional assessment and skill‐based treatment among individuals with autism and mental health disorders. Behavioral Interventions36(1), 298-314.

Critchfield, T. S., Doepke, K. J., Kimberly Epting, L., Becirevic, A., Reed, D. D., Fienup, D. M., … & Ecott, C. L. (2017). Normative emotional responses to behavior analysis jargon or how not to use words to win friends and influence people. Behavior Analysis in Practice10, 97-106.

Dillenburger, K., Keenan, M., Gallagher, S., & McElhinney, M. (2004). Parent education and home‐based behaviour analytic intervention: an examination of parents’ perceptions of outcome. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability29(2), 119-130.

Grindle, C. F., Kovshoff, H., Hastings, R. P., & Remington, B. (2009). Parents’ experiences of home-based applied behavior analysis programs for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders39, 42-56.

Hanley, G. P. (2012). Functional assessment of problem behavior: Dispelling myths, overcoming implementation obstacles, and developing new lore. Behavior Analysis in Practice5, 54-72.

Leaf, J. B., Cihon, J. H., Leaf, R., McEachin, J., Liu, N., Russell, N., … & Khosrowshahi, D. (2022). Concerns about ABA-based intervention: An evaluation and recommendations. Journal of autism and developmental disorders52(6), 2838-2853.

Leytham, P. A., Pierce, T., Baker, J., Miller, S., & Tandy, D. (2015). Evaluation of the nonverbal reading approach for two 12 to 13-year-old students with ASD. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders9, 68-76.

Silbaugh, B. C., & El Fattal, R. (2022). Exploring quality in the applied behavior analysis service delivery industry. Behavior analysis in practice15(2), 571-590.

Parsons, M. B., Rollyson, J. H., & Reid, D. H. (2012). Evidence-based staff training: A guide for practitioners. Behavior analysis in practice5, 2-11.

Taylor, B. A., LeBlanc, L. A., & Nosik, M. R. (2019). Compassionate care in behavior analytic treatment: Can outcomes be enhanced by attending to relationships with caregivers?. Behavior Analysis in Practice12(3), 654-666.

Twyman, J. S. (2011). Emerging technologies and behavioural cusps: A new era for behaviour analysis?European journal of behavior analysis12(2), 461-482

Wolf, M. M. (1978). Social validity: the case for subjective measurement or how applied behavior analysis is finding its heart 1. Journal of applied behavior analysis11(2), 203-214.

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