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What is an Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN)?

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN) are being increasingly talked about across the scientific network. But what exactly is an ELN and what does it offer you?

An ELN can fit into two categories. The first is a simple free-form notebook which can be used as a direct alternative to your current paper notebook. Here you can add text, images, graphics and structures to document your observations and thoughts as you go. This is an unscripted format with no limitations which is often used for qualitative data. This is the simplest function of an ELN and is often well suited to researchers and universities.

The second type of ELN is more structured and may also be referred to as a data management ELN or a Laboratory Execution System (LES). In this instance the ELN will offer far more than just a paperless solution. A sequence of forms or templates will ensure that proper procedures are followed and all data required recorded. The software is seen as a user interface comparable to current paper worksheet, and designed to support the analyst’s daily workflow. Reagents, equipment and their associated documents and procedures can also be stored within this software providing a comprehensive and fully searchable audit trail. This enhanced ELN is well suited to laboratory analysts, especially those working in a GLP environment.

LabsForm has been designed to suit both of these categories or a combination of free-form and templates to suit your lab.

Both types of ELN are different to a LIMS system which tends to focus more on the samples themselves.