Not only do government agencies produce statistical data and legislation, they also engage in and fund original research. Published as reports, studies, conference proceedings, etc., these technical documents are sometimes referred to as “grey literature.” Library repositories and others are working to preserve and make these publications available digitally, but even with these efforts locating documents pertaining to government research can be difficult.
To help locate these publications, the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Library and Information Center offers the following search tips:
Published government research is not necessarily subjected to a rigorous academic review process. This in of itself does not inherently make these publications untrustworthy but their quality can vary widely depending on the source. Library and Knowledge Services at Harvard’s Kennedy School recommends that search results be subjected to the C.R.A.A.P. test to evaluate its Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.
Royal Roads University of offers a slightly different assessment tool, which is designed to lead you through the assessment process via a series of questions.
Bridging gaps in academic and private research government publications have a critical role to play. Government research can provide unique and critically needed resources in emerging technologies and niche research arenas. The following resources were gleaned from lists compiled by Oregon State University Libraries, University of Washington Libraries, Rutgers University Libraries, Illinois Institute of Technology, and others to help with their location:
arXiv.org. Open access to over a million e-prints in physics, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, and more.
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. Finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general key word, or click on "Advanced Search" for more options. Very slow to load.
Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909. A digitization of a standard historical reference work. Lists Agency and Congressional documents, including Serial Set.
CONGRESS.GOV. The official source for federal legislative information. It replaces the nearly 20-year-old THOMAS.gov site with a system that includes platform mobility, comprehensive information retrieval and user-friendly presentation.
CyberCemetary. Provides permanent public access to the Web sites and publications of defunct U.S. government agencies and commissions. Very useful when presidential administrations change. A partnership between the University of North Texas Libraries and the GPO.
Defense Technical Information Center – Technical Reports (TRs). Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) serves the DoD community as the largest central resource for DoD and government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information available (full text available)
Documents and Publications – Reports, Studies and Booklets. Online library and bookshop of publications from the institutions and other bodies of the European Union. Searchable by topic, institution, etc.
Find ETDs. (Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations) Collaborative effort of the NDLTD, OCLC, VTLS and Scirus to provide access to over a million digital theses and dissertations.
Forest Service - TREESEARCH. Access full text peer reviewed documents by published by the USDA Forest Service.
Google Scholar. Searches across a wide range of scholarly literature including technical reports from around the world.
GreyNet International – GreySource Index. Provides access to grey literature in 22 broad subject areas including such areas as agriculture, energy, the environment, materials, military sciences, and social sciences.
HathiTrust Digital Library. Contains government documents from a variety of sources including Google, the Internet Archive, and member institutions. Full text is available for any document that is in the public domain.
Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL). Access to selected U.S. policy documents, presidential directives, national strategy documents as well as specialized resources such as theses and reports from various universities, organizations and local and state agencies.
IIT Paul V. Galvin Library - CONTRAILS. Contains digitized records of 20th century aerospace research.
Library of Congress Technical Reports and Standards (TRS). The Library of Congress holds over 5 million current and historical technical reports in various formats. Resources on their website can be used to identify, locate, and in some instances access digitized copies.
NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS). Provides access to aerospace-related citations, full-text online documents, images and videos, conference papers, journal articles, meeting papers, patents, research reports, images, movies, and technical videos – scientific and technical information (STI) created or funded by NASA.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Access over 47,000 NIST publications.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Publications Database. Access to NREL technical reports, etc.
National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP). Access to over 31,000 digital EPA publications, etc.
National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Access to the Technical Reports Library (NTRL), etc.
National Technical Reports Library (NTRL). Access to the NTIS database containing bibliographic information and summaries of scientific, technical, engineering, and business reports acquired by NTIS. Some full text is included. Coverage ranges from 1900 to the present.
NCR - ADAMS Database. Contains NRC publications such as NUREG- series reports, technical documents, etc.
NOAA Institutional Repository. Contains technical reports, conference proceedings, journal articles, etc. by NOAA researchers.
OSTI.GOV. Department of Energy’s portal to Doe funded over 2 million research, reports, etc.
PubDefense. Provides access to journal articles, conference papers, etc. that are the result of DoD and ODNI/IARPA funded research.
Repository & Open Science Access Portal - rosap. Contains research results and technical publications from the Department of Transportation.
Science.gov. Gateway to U.S. government science information with access to more than 200 million pages of authoritative federal science information including research and development results from 13 federal agencies.
Scientific and Technical Information Program (STI). Collection of aerospace-related technical literature created or funded by NASA.
Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL). Provides digital access to unrestricted U.S. government agency technical reports.
TRID. Provides access to over 1.3 million records of worldwide transportation research.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Library. Contains materials by and about the Army Corps of Engineers including technical reports.
USGS Publications Warehouse. Provides access to over 170,000 publications written by USGS scientists.
WorldWideScience.org. Global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals.
Grey Literature. (University of Michigan Library) Although geared towards the health sciences, provides information on other general resources and information on how to search for “grey literature” especially using Google.
Grey Literature 101: Introduction. (University of New Mexico) Gives background information on the topic, search strategies, and lists of resources.
Grey Literature: What is it?. (Royal Roads University) Offers a summary of the pros and cons of grey literature, etc.
Technical Reports and Standards: About Technical Reports and Standards. (Library of Congress. Science Reference Services) Background on the history of technical reports.