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Research and Reviews with MU Libraries

Written by Ashlynn Perez

In 2016, Cassie Boness, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological Sciences, set out to research and analyze the numerous causes of alcohol use disorder. The project was enormous, eventually amounting to nearly five years worth of work. With the long road to publication ahead of her, Boness contacted MU Libraries for help.

“They put me in contact with Kimberly who was so wonderful and patient in our massive undertaking,” Boness said. “I really felt more confident in the work knowing we had her expertise on board.”

Moeller, an instructional service and social science librarian and co-author of the review, first connected with Boness in 2016 when she was contemplating the project. What started as a few brainstorming emails quickly became monthly meetings and continual communication between the two when in September 2017, Boness secured grant funding and the road toward publication began.

Boness and Moeller’s review, entitled, “The Etiologic, Theory-Based, Ontogenetic Hierarchical Framework of Alcohol Use Disorder: A Translational Systematic Review of Reviews,” was written to look into the many causes of alcohol use disorder by summarizing and interpreting data from more specific reviews to make a broader conclusion about the field.

“It was a multi-step process,” Moeller said. “There’s already a lot of reviews out there, and we don’t need to recreate the wheel. So, we decided to review the reviews that exist.”

After the grueling, two-month process of narrowing down sources to reference in the review – an endeavor led by Moeller – came the coding of research and the extrapolation of data. While the initial research and writing of the review were time-consuming, the process of journal submission, receiving feedback, and making changes for resubmission took about half the time spent working on this project.

“Cassie, by and large, did the heavy lifting on this,” Moeller said. “She wrote at least 90% of the paper – likely even more than that – while I worked on the searches, the flowchart, and the methodology section. There was a lot of ‘in-between’ work that occurred as well, with searches added at different points to include other aspects or terminology that reviewers suggested.”

The review, pre-published in July 2021 and officially published in October 2021, has since been picked up by news organizations and created a buzz on Twitter. Boness is now a research assistant professor at the University of New Mexico.

For MU graduate students, staff and those interested in undertaking a systematic review like Boness’, Moeller recommends attending “Demystifying the Literature Review,” a workshop led by her and Christy Goldsmith from the Campus Writing Program. This workshop is offered both in-person and online, with a recording available on the MU Libraries YouTube channel for easy access, and explains both the research and writing process of compiling literature reviews. In addition, Moeller encourages researchers to talk to an MU Librarian.

“We [librarians] run these searches a lot,” Moeller said. “We’re very familiar and comfortable with which tools you might want to use, and can give suggestions to get you started. The librarian you work with can help you set up the search, run the initial search, export all of the results, and then you’re already a step ahead of the game.”