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What are Technical Reports?

Technical Reports are publications that provide results of research usually funded by government or corporate entities.  When the government performs or sponsors research, they may require that a report of the research be published as a way to maintain public discourse.  Technical reports are most familiar to engineers, geologists, and physicists, but are usually not peer-reviewed.  They are generally published as numbered series, bearing the acronym of the issuing agency, the series code, and an accession number.  For more information on the history of technical reports, read an overview from Science Reference Services of the Library of Congress

Often times, you can recognize a technical report from its citation or reference.  Recognizing a technical report will help you determine where to look for the report.  In particular, a technical report citation will include a report number and will probably not have journal or publisher information.  Technical reports can be divided into 3 categories:

  1. Non-governmental reports - these are published by engineering societies such as AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautical and Astronautics), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) or SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). 
     
  2. Government reports - the research conducted in these reports have been wholly or in part sponsored by the United States or an international government entity.  All agencies of the U.S. Federal and State Government issue reports.  Examples include: DOE (Department of Energy), NASA (National Aeronautics and Astronautics), DOT (Department of Transportation), DOD (Department of Defense), MN DOT (MInnesota Department of Transportation). 
     
  3. Computer Science Technical reports - these are mostly from Computer Science and Engineering departments at various universities.

Sources for Technical Reports

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