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Finding Grey Literature: Engineering & IT

This guide provides tools and methods to locate grey literature

Technical reports

What are technical reports?

Their main characteristics are:

  • Numbered report series
  • Published by government agencies, university departments and companies
  • Describe unsuccessful as well as successful research
  • Not peer-reviewed
  • First place a development or innovation is reported
  • Increasingly available online only
  • Rich with technical information

Why are technical reports important.

  • Can be a rich source of information produced by researchers and practitioners.
  • Can describe the progress or results of scientific or technical research and development.  
  • Often produced as part of sponsored research or as a response to a specific request or research need. 
  • Often the result of federally funded research often performed under contract to companies, universities and laboratories. 
  •  Are not peer-reviewed.
  • Often the only source of some technical information that may not be available elsewhere. 
  • Can often be produced rapidly so that the information can be shared with others working in the field.
  • Can "time-stamp" intellectual property on an innovation or development - important in the race to obtain patents.

Sources and gateways

Finding technical reports

To find specific technical reports, find the website of the organization or university department that produced the report. It may be listed freely available or provides information on how to purchase online or print copies.

Technical reports are often included in Institutional Repositories such as Research Online @JCU.  

The standard databases in engineering and science index some technical reports but to conduct a thorough search the appropriate resources need to be searched. 

Preprint servers

Information Technology

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Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.