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Engineering: Technical Reports

About Technical Reports

Technical or scientific reports describe the progress or results of scientific or technical research and development.  They are often done by Federal government agencies or they may be funded or sponsored by government agencies but prepared by research institutions, universities, think tanks, or other governmental or non-governmental agencies.  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 follow some common forms.

Many bibliographic references will include report numbers.  The report numbers may take different forms.  Examples might follow these formats:


DE87 900540






CONF (followed by numbers….)

DOE (Department of Energy), NASA (space), and the DOD (defense) are top sponsors.  EPA (environmental protection) is another important agency with substantial technical report work.  A number of U.S. Government sponsors now make technical reports available full text online.  

Search for Technical Reports covers 15 federal agencies, searching 60 databases and over 2200 scientific websites. This should be your first stop searching for U.S. government science information including research and development results. 

National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) provides a basic search interface for U.S. government technical reports. Includes both full-text and index-only documents.

Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) is a central resource for DoD funded, affiliated, or otherwise related research. Contains both publicly available and controlled-access information.

Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) provides access to DoE funded research. Includes focused search interfaces for patents, data, and code, as well as scholarly publications and technical reports.

National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) is the repository for EPA technical, scientific, and educational materials.

NASA Scientific and Technical Information Program focuses on aerospace research and development. Includes a search interface for the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) as well as additional resources.

Technical Reports Archive and Image Library (TRAIL) is a project to digitize and make available US government technical reports issued primarily before 1976.

Agricultural Research Service scientific manuscript database (TEKTRAN) contains the last 10 years of published ARS research results.

USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse includes projects and documents focused on human rights and development issues.

European Commission Joint Research Centre publications repository provides access to a variety of resources from European agencies.