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:
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.