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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, NASA and the Department of Defense are top sponsors and EPA is another important agency with substantial technical report work.  A number of U.S. Government sponsors now make technical reports available full text online.  

U.S. Government Technical Reports Databases

  • Defense Technical Information Center DTIC
    DTIC is a central resource for DoD and government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information. Search Technical Reports and find bibliographic citations or full text reports.
  • E-Print Network
    A Network of electronic scientific and technical information created by scientists and research engineers active in their respective fields, all full-text searchable. Site is hosted by OSTI, Department of Energy.
  • EPA National Service Center for Environmental Publications
    EPA's central repository of all EPA documents with over 7,000 titles available in paper or electronic form.
  • EPA Test Methods Collections
  • NASA Technical Reports Server
    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) provides access to over 500,000 aerospace-related citations, over 300,000 full-text online documents, and over 500,000 images and videos. The types of information include: conference papers, journal articles, meeting papers, patents, research reports, images, movies, and technical videos – scientific and technical information (STI) created or funded by NASA. The databases includes NACA, NASA and NIX collections.
  • NTIS - National Technical Information Service
    The National Technical Information Service serves as the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information. See the NTRL Database for access to full text technical reports and bibliographic records for technical reports.
  • NTRL - National Technical Reports Library 
    NTRL (National Technical Reports Library) is from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) within the Department of Commerce. NTRL provides access to government-sponsored research, development and technical reports with full-text access to reports that have been digitized. Searches over 2 million reports with links to over 700,000 full-text reports. 1964 to present
  • searches over 55 databases and over 2100 selected websites from 15 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results. Find and explore selected science websites by topic.
  • SciTech Connect
    DOE's SciTech Connect combines DOE OSTI Information Bridge and Energy Citations Database for a portal to to free, publicly available DOE research and development (R&D) results in energy and related fields.
  • TRAIL: Technical Report Archive & Image Library
    Seach U.S. government technical reports issued primarily prior to 1976 and digitized by TRAIL member libraries. Digitized series include Atomic Energy Commission, NACA, Bureau of Mines Bulletins, and NBS publications.
  • USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse
    Search the U.S. Agency for International Development clearinghouse for U.S. international aid project reports. Most are available as pdf. Historical project reports and descriptions are included in a separate file.