Library Guides: NUCE 297: Technical Writing for Engineers: Technical Reports (2024)

Recognizing Technical Reports

Technical reports describe the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research and usually include in-depth experimental details, data, and results. Technical reports are usually produced to report on a specific research need and can serve as a report of accountability to the organization funding the research. They provide access to the information before it is published elsewhere. Technical Reports are usually not peer reviewed. They need to be evaluated on how the problem, research method, and results are described.

A technical report citation will include a report number and will probably not have journal name.

Technical reports can be divided into two general categories:

  1. Non-Governmental Reports- these are published by companies and engineering societies, such as Lockheed-Martin, AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautical and Astronautics), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), or SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers).
  2. Governmental Reports- the research conducted in these reports has been sponsored by the United States or an international government body as well as state and local governments.

Library Guides: NUCE 297: Technical Writing for Engineers: Technical Reports (1)

Recommendations for Finding Technical Reports

Some technical reports are cataloged as books, which you can search for in the catalog, while others may be located in databases, or free online. The boxes below list databases and online resources you can use to locate a report.

If you’re not sure where to start, try to learn more about the report by confirming the full title or learning more about the publication information.

  • Search Google Scholar, the HathiTrust, or WorldCat. This can verify the accuracy of the citation and determine if the technical report was also published in a journal or conference proceeding or under a different report number.

Having trouble finding a report through Penn State? If we don’t have access to the report, you can submit an interlibrary loan request and we will get it for you from another library. If you have any questions, you can always contact a librarian!

Databases with Technical Reports

  • National Technical Reports Library (NTRL)

    NTRL is the preeminent resource for accessing the latest US government sponsored research, and worldwide scientific, technical, and engineering information. Search by title to determine report number.

  • Engineering Village

    Engineering Village is the most comprehensive interdisciplinary engineering database in the world with over 5,000 engineering journals and conference materials dating from 1884. Has citations to many ASME, ASCE, SAE, and other professional organizations' technical papers. Search by author, title, or report number.

  • IEEE Xplore

    Provides access to articles, papers, reports, and standards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

  • ASABE Technical Library

    Provides access to all of the recent technical documents published by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

  • International Nuclear Information System (INIS) Database

    Provides access to nuclear science and technology technical reports.

  • NASA Technical Reports Server

    Contains the searchable NACA Technical Reports collection, NASA Technical Reports collection and NIX collection of images, movies, and videos. Includes the full text and bibliographic records of selected unclassified, publicly available NASA-sponsored technical reports. Coverage: NACA reports 1915-1958, NASA reports since 1958.

  • OSTI Technical Reports

    Full-text of Department of Energy (DOE) funded science, technology, and engineering technical reports. OSTI has replaced SciTech Connect as the primary search tool for Department of Energy (DOE) funded science, technology, and engineering research results. It provides access to all the information previously available in SciTech Connect, DOE Information Bridge, and Energy Citations Database.

  • ERIC (ProQuest)

    Provides access to technical reports and other education-related materials. ERIC is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

  • Transportation Research International Documentation (TRID)

    TRID is a newly integrated database that combines the records from TRB's Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) Database and the OECD's Joint Transport Research Centre's International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) Database. TRID provides access to over 900,000 records of transportation research worldwide.

  • TRAIL Technical Reports Archive & Image Library

    Provide access to federal technical reports issued prior to 1975.

  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)

    The largest central resource for Department of Defense and government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information.

Other Tools for Finding Technical Reports

  • Report series codes dictionary : a guide to more than 20,000 alphanumeric codes used to identify technical reports, arranged both by code and by corporate author

  • Criss-cross directory of NASA "N" numbers and DOD "AD" numbers, 1962-1986

Print indexes to technical reports:

Library Guides: NUCE 297: Technical Writing for Engineers: Technical Reports (2024)
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