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CHE470: Technical Reports

What are technical reports?

Technical Reports are part of Gray Literature or "Grey Literature."

Their main characteristics are:

  • Numbered report series
  • Published by government agencies, university departments and companies
  • Describe unsuccessful as well as successful research
  • Not peer-reviewed
  • First place a development or innovation is reported
  • Increasingly available online only
  • Rich with technical information

Technical report resources and gateways

TRAIL Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL) is an initiative led by the University of Arizona in collaboration with CRL and other interested agencies to identify, digitize, archive, and provide access to federal technical reports issued prior to 1975.  

Virtual Technical Reports Collections (University of Maryland Libraries provides links to full-text or searchable extended abstracts of technical reports, preprints, reprints, dissertations, theses, and research reports in all disciplines.

Why are technical reports important?

Technical reports are a rich source of information produced by researchers and practitioners and describe the progress or results of scientific or technical research and development. They are often produced as part of sponsored research or as a response to a specific request or research need. A large subset of technical reports are the result of federally funded research often performed under contract to companies, universities and laboratories. Engineers especially depend heavily on technical reports. 

Though they are not peer-reviewed, they are often the only source of some technical informationt that may not be available elsewhere. Due to their nature, they can often be produced rapidly so that the information can be shared with others working in the field.

Technical reports also have the function of "time-stamping" intellectual property on an innovation or development - important in the race to obtain patents. . 

How do I find technical reports?

One of the easiest ways to find a specific technical report is to find the website of the organization or university department and it may be listed freely available for download or there may be information on how to purchase online or print copies.

Example: Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Technical reports are often included in Institutional Repositories (IRs).  Many universities now have IRs. 

Example: California Instiutute of Technology (Caltech)

The standard databases in engineering and science index some technical reports but to conduct a thorough search the appropriate resources need to be searched. 

Listed below are the major technical report databases mostly from US federal agencies that would be of interest to scientists and engineers at CSULB. This is an evolving list.

If the report is not available for download, you can request via our ILLIAD Interlibrary Service.

DOE Information Bridge provides access to citations in physics, chemistry, materials, biology, environmental sciences, energy technologies, engineering, computer and information science, renewable energy, and other topics relating to DOE's mission

DTIC Online provides access to the Defense Technical Information Center's public technical reports

Energy Citations Database provides free access to documents from the Department of Energy (DOE)

Los Alamos National Laboratory holds about 1.5 million unclassified technical reports, in paper, microfiche and electronic formats. Most Los Alamos reports are available electronically.

Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering to Extreme Events Research (MCCER) Interestingly MCCER technical reports are peer-reviewed

National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) provides access to over 6,000 technical and public information documents. 

NASA Technical Reports Server is a free resource for access to NASA's current and historical technical literature. Very important resource for aerospace engineers.

National Technical Information Service Database (NTIS) database is the preeminent resource for accessing the latest research sponsored by the United States and select foreign governments. The Database represents billions of dollars in research. Contents include research reports, computer products, software, video cassettes, audio cassettes and more. The complete electronic file dates back to 1964

Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library NCSTRL is a database of full-text computer science technical reports, mostly from universities, and also from some research centers.  NCSTRL is no longer supported and exists as a good demonstration of one of the earliest federated systems.