ELN or LIMS? That is the Question

Michal Frenkiel

Michal Frenkiel



Dec 2020

As technology progresses and new smart technologies are developed, research labs face the need to keep up with progress. Continuing working with a paper notebook to document research data is the easy solution, however, it comes with obvious disadvantages; It is not searchable, you cannot share your data easily with collaborators and it comes with security risks since it is more prone to human error and exposes your lab to data integrity issues.

Researchers can choose the suitable solution for their needs in the form of a research lab management system. For researchers today, there are two main available solutions- LIMS (Laboratory inventory management system) and ELN (electronic lab notebook). Following is a description of the abilities and uses of each of these solutions.

LIMS (Laboratory inventory management system)

Tracking all of the samples and reagents in the lab can be challenging. Usually, spreadsheets are the first option that comes to mind when trying to put your bio collections and inventory in order. However, spreadsheets have their limitations, especially in comparison to a specialized inventory management system.

Using web-based laboratory inventory management software can help laboratories manage their inventory in a productive and cost-effective manner. The advantages of such a system over using paper or spreadsheets are clear –  You can gain control and keep track of everything in one place, manage your stock levels and new orders, create stock alerts, and easily share inventory locations with all lab members- so everyone is up to date. In addition, make sure you have the option to populate your inventory in bulk with an import function and be able to label your samples to easily track them.

ELN (Electronic lab notebook)

Many Biotech companies and academic labs are searching to replace the paper notebook with a research lab management solution. An Electronic Lab Notebook is a software application for documenting scientific processes in the laboratory, with which you can maintain high-quality data that complies with regulatory and IP protection requirements.
An ELN enables you to easily manage your projects, have templates for your experiment to maintain reproducibility and save time, add attachments with different formats and makes your research data searchable.

Do you really have to choose only one solution?

Each of these options has its own advantages. However, combining these two together creates a much smarter solution that can help you manage your data in the most efficient way. Linking your inventory management system with your electronic lab notebook allows you to fully capture what is done in the lab and increase laboratory productivity and data integrity.

Smart lab

A solution that offers organic integration has a great advantage of running two separate systems. An integrated solution, like Labguru, eliminates the need to use several systems, saving integration issues and multiple vendors. Also, when the two are integrated together you can actually track each action that was done on each sample, and follow in which experiments the sample was used and the amount used in these experiments. Having the information hyperlinked is a great advantage as well to easily go back and forth between your ELN and LIMS modules in the system.

Having the two integrated already gives you a much better solution, but some tools have even higher levels of information management capabilities. This can be in the form of informatics solutions, the ability to automate processes and derive insights from your data. Implementing such advanced solutions can contribute to higher efficiency, productivity and the maintenance of data integrity.

To learn more about Labguru all-in-one research data management solution 

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