What are Technical Reports?
Technical reports describe the progress or results of scientific or technical research and development. These may include national or international reports by university departments, institutes, private industry or government agencies and laboratories.
Issuing (funding) agencies may or may not make reports publicly available and some charge for copies of their reports. Publication and dissemination of technical reports has never been centrally coordinated; therefore, they can be particularly difficult to identify and locate.
Technical reports usually appear as part of a numbered series from the issuing agency.
These numbers are important and are often the easiest way to find a specific
report or document. Each agency has its own numbering system,
however technical report number systems usually include the following
- agency, society, or company delineator
- year code
- specific number for each report
Some examples of numbers are:
- SAE 2001-1096
NOTE: Contact the
Engineering Library if you need information about finding and obtaining technical reports.
Additional information can be found on the following pages:
National Technical Information Service - NTIS - The primary clearinghouse for government technical reports. Documents in the NTIS Technical Reports collection are the results of federally funded research. They are directly submitted to or collected by NTIS from Federal agencies for permanent accessibility to industry, academia and the public.
Before purchasing from NTIS, you may want to check for free access from
- the issuing organization's website;
- the U.S. Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System website http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys;
- the federal government Internet portal USA.gov; or
- a web search conducted using a commercial search engine such as http://www.google.com
- The National Technical Information Service is the primary clearinghouse for federal government technical reports. Its National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) database is available free to the public in a limited Quick Search mode (registration required). It provides access to about 800,000 full text reports as well as over two million bibliographic records since 1964. Non-digitized reports must be purchased directly from NTIS and can't be requested via interlibrary loan. Limit of 5 downloads per session.
Databases and Library Collection
INSPEC and INSPEC Archive
Government Web sites
- Science Accelerator - Search science from key databases of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
- DOE Virtual Library of Energy Science and Technology - The Library includes three vast virtual resources for DOE web patrons covering each of the three main ways by which scientists communicate their findings: gray literature, preprints and journal literature.
- SciTech Connect - Contains documents and citations in physics, chemistry, materials, biology, environmental sciences, energy technologies, engineering, computer and information science, renewable energy and other topics of interest related to DOE's mission. Now also includes the Energy Citations Database.
- WorldWideScience.org - Search science from worldwide databases.
- Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) Scientific and Technical Information Network (STINET) - DTIC Technical Report collection includes all unclassified, unlimited government-sponsored technical report citations since 1974. Some reports are available in full text online. The scope of DTIC collection includes areas normally associated with Department of Defense research; however, since DoD interests are widespread, the collection also contains information relating to hard sciences, such as biological and medical sciences; environmental pollution and control; and the behavioral and social sciences.
- EPA - NEPIS- NEPIS is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Environmental Publications Internet Site. Search, view and print from a collection of more than
6,000 technical and public information documents. NOTE: A limited number of EPA reports are cataloged and can be found in the Library Catalog.
- EPA Publications Source - Gateway to various EPA publication catalogs for online and printed documents and reports. Warning: EPA documents can be very difficult to find! For more information on EPA analytical methods, see the Analytical Chemistry pathfinder.
- Los Alamos National Laboratory- The Research Library holds about 1.5 million unclassified technical reports, in paper, microfiche and electronic formats. We are an archival resource for Los Alamos reports, with all formal LA reports since 1943 and many LA-URs. Most Los Alamos reports are available electronically.
- National Transportation Library - TRIS Online
- Fire Research Information Services (FRIS) - FRIS is a resource both to the NIST Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BRLF) staff and to fire protection engineers, scientists and fire service personnel around the world.
- Science.gov: Search science from 15 U.S. federal agencies.
- INIS Database - International Atomic Energy Agency: "INIS represents the world's largest database of scientific and technical literature on a wide range of subjects from nuclear engineering, safeguards and non-proliferation to applications in agriculture, health and industry. Includes a unique collection of more than 850,000 full-text documents: scientific and technical reports, conference proceedings, patents, theses and preprints. This 'grey' non-conventional literature (NCL) is not easily available from other sources."
Additional Web sites
Technical Reports published by the University of Texas at Austin (selective listing)