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Since World War II the technical report has come to occupy a position of considerable importance among media in which results of scientific research first appear. The estimated 50 000 or more documents of this kind which are issued each year—particularly by laboratories engaged in defense‐related research—constitute the first appearance in print of much of the newest and most important scientific information being developed today. Almost half of these reports carry no security classification. Yet, for the most part they are not covered by the standard abstracting and indexing services. This is partly because the enormous complexity of the scientific report picture would make systematic coverage very difficult and partly because it would be almost impossible to assure readers of the abstracts of access to the parent reports.
When the study discussed here was conducted, both authors were associated with the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Dwight Gray has since joined the National Science Foundation, while Staffan Rosenborg is still with the Library of Congress.