After much search, I ended up troubling my supervisor, who was kind enough to give me the title and author of the paper. As it turns out, it was published in 1950 (before my supervisor was born) and is called THE RELATIONSHIP OF CONCENTRATION AND GERMICIDAL EFFICIENCY OF ETHYL ALCOHOL
Harry E. Morton.
This paper describes ethanol tested on bacterial pellets, which means it was tested on wet cells. However, it has been shown that for dry surfaces absolute alcohol might not work as a disinfectant.
Most likely that is why a water-alcohol solution is used in labs.