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What are Technical Reports?

Technical report from the Forest Service (USDA). Available in PDF format.

The term "technical report" refers to the research reports written as part of government funded research on a variety of subjects. The term is not limited to research of a scientific or technical nature. Most federal government funded research is performed by universities, nonprofit organizations and industries under contract to government agencies. NTIS (National Technical Information Service) is the primary agency responsible for the distribution of technical information. Some technical reports are distributed by the Government Printing Office.

The collection at the Morris Library is very strong in technical reports from: Environmental Protection Agency (SuDocs call number EP), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (SuDocs call number NAS), and Department of Energy. Technical reports issued from 1994 to present will be included in the University of Delaware Library catalog, DELCAT Discovery, if they were received as a part of the federal depository collection.

Grey Literature


"That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers."

From: Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature (GL '99) in Washington, DC, in October 1999.

Government technical reports are a major component of grey literature.

Sources for Technical Reports

Technical reports may be listed in DELCAT Discovery (first search box on Library home page).

In many cases, a report is not listed in DELCAT Discovery but the report is available in microfiche format at the UD Library. Check with the Reference Desk.

These specialized indexes are good resources for identifying reports:

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Subjects: Maps, Public Policy & Administration, U.S. Government Documents

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"A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but as Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
– James Madison, "Letter to W. T. Barry" (August 4, 1822)