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Types of Sources: Technical Reports

So many choices! Use this guide to determine when to use a book, journal, video, encyclopedia or other sources.

About Technical Reports

Technical reports provide scientific and technical information. They are most commonly generated by U.S. government agencies,  corporations, and universities.

Use a technical report:

  • To discover new developments or findings from science and technical research before its publication in journals
  • To see how the research in specific topic areas was approached from an historical perspective

Characteristics of Technical Reports

Authors are:

often scholars or scientists, engineers, government contractors, or technical personnel.

Sources are:

always cited with references and/or footnotes.

Articles are:

long and often have sections such as abstract and appendixes. Often includes tables, images and charts.

They have:

no ads, and only sometimes have color graphics.

Find Technical Reports

Although technical reports are frequently cited in the engineering literature and may be indexed in some databases, they can be difficult to verify and obtain. Contact the library if you need help locating a report. 

How to Cite

Example print technical reports reference citation in American Psychological Association (APA) style:

National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental illness (DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). U.S. Government Printing Office.

Example electronic technical reports reference citation in American Psychological Association (APA) style:

Irish, J., & Signell, R. (1992). Tides of Massachusetts and Cape Cod bays (WHOI-92-35). Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

For information on additional citation styles, please see the Citing Sources guide.