To read this content please select one of the options below:

International students and information literacy: a systematic review

Meggan Houlihan (Library, New York University – Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Claire Walker Wiley (Lila D. Bunch Library, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA)
Amanda B. Click (University Library, American University, Washington DC, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




This study was designed to explore the library and information science research on international students and information literacy published between 1990 and 2014.


Systematic review was used to identify and analyze publications from a 25-year period. Three major library information science (LIS) databases were searched for publications meeting the study criteria, and then manual bibliography searches were performed on all those included.


Twenty-one of the 23 included publications were papers published in scholarly journals. There was a slight growth in number of publications by year between 1990 and 2014. Most of the research was conducted in the USA, Australia or Canada. Surveys and interviews were the most commonly used research methods, and nine of the studies used mixed methods. “Library experience” and “information seeking” emerged as the most common research topics. Key findings presented in these papers were often related to library and non-library resources, library instruction, language issues and research difficulties experienced by international students. Author recommendations were generally related to campus collaboration, staff training, assessment, cultural awareness and library instruction.

Practical implications

The findings of this study will be of value for LIS practitioners who wish to develop or improve information literacy training for the international student populations on their campuses.


Systematic review is a useful and rigorous method that can be of value in LIS research. This paper provides a thorough review and assessment of the original research related to international students and information literacy, and summarizes the resulting recommendations.



Houlihan, M., Walker Wiley, C. and Click, A.B. (2017), "International students and information literacy: a systematic review", Reference Services Review, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 258-277.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles