ELN vs LIMS: What’s the Difference?

ELN vs LIMS: What’s the Difference?


As a scientist looking to make an informed decision about data management for your lab, you may be wondering: What’s the difference between ELN and LIMS? Keeping data organized and secure is essential for every lab. That is where data management softwares like Electronic Lab Notebooks and Laboratory Information Management Systems come in. But understanding the difference between an ELN and a LIMS is important for knowing how to pick the best data management solution for your lab.


The difference between ELN and LIMS


Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMSs) are two similar—but distinct—data management systems for science professionals. Both offer methods for compiling and grouping research information. The biggest difference between an ELN and a LIMS is the type of data they are able to compute.


An ELN is a comprehensive, paperless lab notebook software that allows lab professionals to collaborate, customize and manage workflows, create reports, and input research, notes, images, and observations all-in-one. A good ELN will also offer the benefits of lab equipment booking system technology. This helps support lab best practices by allowing individuals to track, book, and schedule maintenance of their equipment. 


A LIMS, on the other hand, is an information management system that is more focused on tracking structured or standardized data about experiments, such as sample and instrument records. A LIMS can also help manage lab tasks and create basic analytical reports.


In the modern lab, many researchers are choosing ELNs for their easy integration with various existing workflows and the way they support research collaboration, hybrid work, and end-to-end visibility.


ELN Vs LIMS comparison table

Who can use an ELN? 


There are many benefits of an Electronic Lab Notebook—and these benefits extend outside the lab as well. An ELN works like a paperless notebook, which makes them great for any workforce managing large volumes of unstructured datasets. An ELN is designed to help you organize, store, and share data between your employees or business partners, providing real-time access to information across an organization.


ELN integration into workflows is easy, allowing them to be used for tasks such as:

  • Manufacturing
  • Laboratory testing (e.g. environmental, chemical)
  • Quality assurance and quality control


Another advantage of the electronic lab notebook is its lab equipment booking system tools. What a lab equipment booking system does is facilitate and manage an inventory of equipment. It allows users to track, book, and schedule maintenance of their equipment. 


ELN integration: What’s the difference between ELN and LIMS


Without a way to organize the information you collect in a lab notebook, it can be difficult or impossible to use that information effectively. This is where electronic lab notebooks come in. Just like a regular notebook, a paperless notebook allows scientists and researchers to write down their observations as they’re made. It is easy to integrate an ELN into lab workflows because they replicate existing procedures. 


Here are 5 simple ways ELN integration improves basic workflows and increase lab efficiency:


  1. Unlike a regular notebook, an electronic lab notebook includes a table of contents. This allows users to quickly find specific pages in the paperless notebook.
  2. An ELN allows users to add notes throughout the experiment without needing access to other systems like LIMS or databases.  
  3. ELNs offer an index system for organizing notebook pages into categories based on what they contain. This allows researchers to file and index experiments or observations they recorded during a research project.
  4. Electronic Lab Notebooks allow users to write notes directly on top of PDFs or images within the application interface—something paper notebooks don’t offer. This feature makes it easier for researchers who want to make changes as they work through their projects without having to retype everything into another app later on.
  5. ELNs automatically back up information in real time. They ensure data doesn’t get lost (or thrown out) and is always available if needed later on. Plus, this data instantly becomes easily accessible from anywhere using any device.


ELN best practices


There are definitely some dos and don’ts when it comes to an ELN. By following Electronic Lab Notebook best practices, a lab can ensure its data is safely stored and properly organized. Simple actions like deciding on naming conventions, uploading your ELN to the cloud, making standard templates, and more make integrating an ELN into your lab a breeze. Also, be sure to choose a paperless notebook that complies with local and international norms and standards. This will allow you to keep your lab in compliance, while ensuring an extremely secure environment for your data and your team.


Making the switch to a paperless notebook


Lab notebooks are an essential tool in the life of any scientist. They allow you to keep track of your experiments and observations, but they also serve as a way to organize your data so that it can be used effectively. ELNs are a paperless notebook technology that do everything a regular notebook can do and more.


At Pillar Science we are dedicated to helping teams conduct modern research. We empower researchers by offering accessible, state-of-the-art ecosystems that accelerate collaborative discoveries.


Designed by scientists and developers, the Pillar Science ELN was made to respond to real life obstacles faced by lab workers every day. Our user-friendly ELN safely stores and protects your data, ensures compliance with industry standards, and helps you stay on top of your tasks with its integrated project management.


Book a demo to try our ELN today!

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