A technical report (also: scientific report) is a document that describes the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem. It might also include recommendations and conclusions of the research. Unlike other scientific literature, such as scientific journals and the proceedings of some academic conferences, technical reports rarely undergo comprehensive independent peer review before publication. They may be considered as grey literature. Where there is a review process, it is often limited to within the originating organization. Similarly, there are no formal publishing procedures for such reports, except where established locally.
Technical reports are today a major source of scientific and technical information. They are prepared for internal or wider distribution by many organizations, most of which lack the extensive editing and printing facilities of commercial publishers.
Technical reports are often prepared for sponsors of research projects. Another case where a technical report may be produced is when more information is produced for an academic paper than is acceptable or feasible to publish in a peer-reviewed publication; examples of this include in-depth experimental details, additional results, or the architecture of a computer model. Researchers may also publish work in early form as a technical report to establish novelty, without having to wait for the often long production schedules of academic journals. Technical reports are considered "non-archival" publications, and so are free to be published elsewhere in peer-reviewed venues with or without modification.
- International standard ISO 5966 provided guidance on the preparation of technical reports that are published and archived on paper.
- The Grey Literature International Steering Committee (GLISC) established in 2006 published guidelines for the production of scientific and technical reports. These recommendations are adapted from the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) – better known as “Vancouver Style”, and are available on the GLISC website.
Many organizations collect their technical reports into a formal series. Reports are then assigned an identifier (report number, volume number) and share a common cover-page layout. The entire series might be uniquely identified by an ISSN.
A registration scheme for a globally unique International Standard Technical Report Number (ISRN) was standardized in 1994 (ISO 10444), but was never implemented in practice. ISO finally withdrew this standard in December 2007. It aimed to be an international extension of a report identifier scheme used by U.S. government agencies (ANSI/NISO Z39.23).
- International standard ISO 5966:1982, Documentation — Presentation of scientific and technical reports, International Organization for Standardization, (withdrawn in October 2000)
- Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly, The Elements of Technical Writing, pg. 119. New York: Macmillan Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0020130856
- International standard ISO 10444:1994, Information and documentation — International standard technical report number (ISRN), (withdrawn December 2007)
- American standard ANSI/NISO Z39.23, Standard technical report number format and creation
- National Information Standards Organization
- American National Standards Institute
- Department of Defense technical reports at Defense Technical Information Center
- NASA technical reports
- Archive of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) (Chartered in 1915, operational from 1917-1958. The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 created NASA from NACA.
- Technical Report Archive and Image Library (TRAIL) U.S. government technical reports issued primarily prior to 1975 and digitized by the TRAIL. More on TRAIL
- GLISC Guidelines for the production of scientific and technical reports