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Technical Reports: Home

This Guide is intended to provide information on what technical reports are as well as access to various technical report collections for research purposes.
Last Updated: Jan 8, 2024 4:39 PM

Technical Reports Overview

Technical reports are works that describe the progress or results of scientific or technical research and development. Technical reports usually fall into two categories: government sponsored and privately funded research reports. Both categories may include national or international reports by university departments, institutes, private industry, or government agencies and laboratories.

Technical reports are often more detailed than articles in the peer-reviewed journal literature. They may be hundreds of pages long and may include supporting materials that never make it into journal publications, such as data sets or programming code.

In addition, researchers in the private sector may not have any incentive to publish the results of contracted research in a peer-reviewed journal, as academic researchers do, and so the technical report they write for their funding agency may represent the first, and only, place that a particular piece of research is published.

TRAIL: Technical Report Archive and Image Library

TRAIL - Technical Report Archive and Image Library

TRAIL is a cooperative program to identify, digitize, archive, and provide access to federal technical reports issued prior to 1975. This initiative is led by the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and other interested agencies. The TRAIL Project began under the auspices of the Greater Western Library Alliance. The archive currently contains over 20,000 full-text technical reports.

Search U.S. government technical reports issued primarily prior to 1976 and digitized by TRAIL.

Additional Tech Report Databases

Technical Reports @ UB

UB has a collection of over 1.5 million technical reports, with major holdings of reports by DOE, NASA, and EPA.

Most of the reports are on microfiche and are filed in fiche cabinets located in the basement floor of Lockwood Library.

Reports on microfiche are filed either by:

  • technical report number (e.g., BNL-25708, NASA-CR-182000) or
  • NTIS accession number (e.g., AD-678750 or PB-182571).

Most of our print technical reports are filed by SuDoc number (e.g., I 19.76:91-500) on the first floor of the Lockwood Library in our U.S. Government Documents Collection. However, some print reports may be filed by LC Class in our regular Lockwood Book Collection.

To determine if we have a particular technical report, begin by searching the UB Libraries' Catalog. Technical reports are cataloged either individually or serially (meaning that there is a single serial record describing the series as a whole with detailed volume holdings information noted telling you exactly which volumes, or paper numbers, we own).

If a report is not listed in the Catalog, it does not mean we do not own it. Other tools that can be used to identify and locate technical reports include a number of electronic databases and print indexes, including the NTIS Database (see sidebar).

If we do not own a report, you may fill out a Delivery+ request for it and we will try to obtain a copy of it from another library.

Microfiche readers are available on the second floor of Lockwood Library for viewing and/or scanning.

MCEER Reports

Reports produced by MCEER, the research center at the University at Buffalo dedicated to the discovery and development of new knowledge, tools and technologies that equip communities to become more disaster resilient in the face of earthquakes and other extreme events, are listed individually in the UB Libraries' Catalog and shelved in the Lockwood Book Collection under the call number TA654.6 .T423.

Many of the MCEER reports are now also accessible online through UB's Institutional Repository in the MCEER Technical Reports public collection.

CSE Reports

The UB Libraries own copies of many of the UB Department of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) reports in paper. These are listed in the UB Libraries' Catalog with location information. In addition, CSE provides access to the full text of many of its reports online through the CSE website; to access these by year, go to CSE Technical Reports.

Additional Searching Help

Many technical reports are freely available on the Internet. If you cannot locate a specific technical report using the databases listed (see sidebar), try using the following strategies:

  • Use Google or another Internet search engine to find the report either by title, author, or report number;
  • Go to the sponsoring agency's website (e.g., NASA, DOE, DoD, etc.) and browse/search the site.

Engineering Librarian

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Erin Rowley
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