Best ELN Software in 2022: Key Features of the Top Electronic Lab Notebooks

Best ELN Software in 2022: Key Features of the Top Electronic Lab Notebooks
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

In the early days, electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) were simply digital versions of the conventional paper lab notebook. As with most other solutions, ELNs made the most of advancing technologies to develop features and services worthy of the full potential of digital technology. Specifically, they have evolved record-keeping processes to make them the invaluable tools of researchers that they are today (Huchet, 2021).

Currently, modern ELNs or electronic lab notebooks perform different functions to meet varying scientific needs. They find vigorous applications in scientific laboratories of varying scales, academic research, industrial research, and public or private scientific undertakings. Startup businesses founded on natural research will rely on ELNs, as would government agencies tasked with various scientific investigations.

It is of the utmost importance that ELN providers deliver solutions that guarantee the centralization and accessibility of research data. To find an ELN that fits your requirements, read this in-depth features and pricing overview of today’s best ELN software.

Best ELN Software Table of Contents

  1. ELNs on the Ground
  2. Why ELNs Are Important
  3. List of 20 Best ELNs

ELNs on the Ground

At the University of São Paulo School of Medicine,  31 science-affiliated people consisting of technicians, researchers, private investigators, master and PhD students, and post-docs were interviewed in 2018. Remarkably, more than 90% of them were not familiar with an ELN (Redoxoma Newsletter, 2019).

Source: Electronic lab notebooks: can they replace paper?, Journal of Cheminformatics, BioMed Central

Another surprising fact is that most private investigators use scratch papers to note their experiments. They normally update their lab notebooks every day (37%) or at least weekly (29%), and others do not actually take note of their experiments (34%).

Nevertheless, they showed interest at the mention of ELNs. The potential help caught on with the small sample, as it did with more in the industry.

ELN use among labs

Why ELNs Are Important

In the face of mounting data volumes and complex processes, the old-fashioned paper laboratory notebooks are fast becoming a hindrance to lab scientists and their goals. They are laborious to write on, hard to read, unable to store digital data, and can easily be misplaced or get stained with food and drinks. Here are some of the top reasons why ELNs are crucial today, reflected by an exploding demand in the market.

ELN software market size

More Convenient to Use and Share

Other people’s handwriting can sometimes be challenging to understand, especially when the one who wrote it was in a rush. Switching from handwritten notes to ELN is a wise choice if eligibility is a top concern. In an ELN, digital notes are displayed in a standard format, which makes them easier to decipher for everyone (Goraai, 2022).

Automation

An ELN can automate many of the manual elements of laboratory note-taking. In laboratory processes, automation simplifies experimental procedures and helps researchers save more time for other tasks such as data analysis. ELNs also use advanced technologies to automate different data input and acquisition processes.

Structured and Concentrated Data

By having a single location to store key information and results, ELNs foster transparency among laboratory professionals. Performing every phase of the experiment in a centralized area gives researchers an extensive overview of each laboratory procedure. ELNs also serve as a type of data management software as they leaves data trails that make it simpler to track where some data items came from and changed during an experiment.

Source: MLO State of the Industry surveys, 2020, 2021

Reproducibility

ELNs improve the reproducibility and reliability of results as all data are placed in a single location. Researchers can then easily explore the tool to look for previous experiments.

Furthermore, ELNs show the approaches, materials, outcomes, and conclusions of experiments for them to be accurately reproduced. Laboratories are not exempted from errors or misinterpretations, but ELNs make data always accurate and new.

1990s raw data lost

Safety and Security

If left anywhere, handwritten notes can be seen by anyone. With ELNs, security measures are observed so that only authorized personnel can read or edit data notes. They also help increase the safety and integrity of data results.

Handwritten notes are also prone to damage due to spillages, for instance, inside the laboratory. If water or hazardous chemicals are spilled into these notes, it would be hard or impossible to retrieve them.

With the foregoing discussion, we proceed to the list of 20 best ELN software solutions in 2022.

List of 20 Best ELNs

1. Labguru: An All-in-One ELN, Informatics Platform, and LIMS

Labguru dashboard

Labguru is a cloud-hosted ELN, informatics platform, and LIMS that carries out a comprehensive solution for the life science field. It keeps and manages laboratory data and inventory, allows for lab automation, includes chemistry and molecular biology resources, and gives insights into lab data creation. It helps researchers devise workflows and experiments, take structured and unstructured data, handle projects, and share work with others.

Key Features

  • User access settings
  • Extensive search function
  • Excel data import
  • Data storage
  • Data access authorization
  • Inventory management
  • Inventory control
  • Records maintenance
  • Protocol templates
  • Intellectual compliance and protection
  • Health and safety

Price

  • Contact Labguru for more information.

2. Labfolder: The ELN for Writing, Drawing, and Organizing Experiment Reports

Labfolder dashboard

Labfolder is an ELN that can help you write, draw, and organize your experiments’ reports. These reports can then be safely kept in the cloud. It offers 3 GB of cloud space for file storage. This solution best suits researchers and/or scientists in the fields of higher education, biology, and biotech.

Key Features

  • Collaboration tools
  • File sharing
  • Timestamps
  • Electronic signature
  • Inventory management
  • Project management
  • Barcode/label management
  • Compliance management
  • Compliance tracking
  • Data storage management
  • Data import/export
  • Access controls/permission
  • API
  • EDI
  • Protocol/SOP management

Price

  • Free version
  • Free trial
  • Starts at $18 per feature per month

3. SciNote: Your One-Stop ELN, Inventory Management, and Project Management Solution

SciNote dashboard

SciNote is a software for academic researchers or FDA-trusted industries. It is an all-in-one ELN, inventory management, and project management solution. It uses data security measures to protect the integrity and privacy of information. It is user-friendly, intuitive, and 21 CFR part 11- and GLP-compliant.

Key Features

  • Inventory and protocol management tools
  • Automated reporting
  • Team collaboration
  • Experiment templates
  • Electronic signature
  • Access controls/permissions
  • Inventory management
  • Sample management
  • Compliance management
  • Calibration management
  • Data storage management
  • Data security
  • Lab instruments integration
  • Lab order management
  • Protocol/SOP management
  • API

Price

  • Free
  • Paid for Premium Academica and Industry plans

4. SciCord: Combines LIMS’ Compliance and ELN’s Versatility

Scicord ELN dashboard

SciCord is the combination of the systematized aspects and compliance of a LIMS with the versatility of an ELN. It offers a complete suite of preconfigured tools to automate laboratory processes. These tools are plug-and-play modules, which can also be adjusted to cater to certain requirements of some organizations. On top of that, SciCord works well with laboratory instruments.

Features

  • Messaging
  • Review
  • Document lifecycle
  • Sample lifecycle
  • Views
  • Calculations and statistics
  • Data mart
  • Instrument data repository
  • Instrument interface
  • Roles and permissions
  • ALCOA model
  • Integration with lab instruments
  • Security compliance

Price

  • On request

5. eLabJournal: The ELN for Protocol Management and Sample Tracking

eLabjournal dashboard

eLabJournal incorporates modules for protocol management and sample tracking. In this software, all data are instantly and securely placed in servers or in the cloud. It features e-signatures that can sign or countersign experiments. Mobile access is also available through its mobile app.

Features

  • Collaboration tools
  • Electronic signature
  • File sharing
  • Barcode/label management
  • Workflow management
  • Instrument management
  • Inventory management
  • Access controls/permissions
  • Compliance management
  • Compliance tracking
  • Data import/export
  • Data security
  • Data storage management
  • EDI
  • API
  • Mobile app

Price

  • On request

6. Uncountable: The Pioneer of the AI-Powered LIMS

Uncountable dashboard

Uncountable speeds up research and development all throughout many fields. It is the pioneer of the rise of AI-powered LIMS by merging the basic functionality of a LIMS and an ELN. This feature is comprised of sophisticated machine learning algorithms, several joint workflows, and integrated statistical analysis materials. Its complete machine learning calculations are tailored to suit the intricate R&D information environment, providing researchers with a total AI-based experience.

Key Features

  • Activity dashboard
  • Collaboration tools
  • AI-based suggestions
  • Data integration and visualization
  • Certification of analysis
  • EDI
  • Document management
  • Instrument management
  • Inventory management
  • Inventory tracking
  • Workflow management
  • Sample management
  • Testing/QA management
  • Configurable workflow
  • Compliance tracking
  • Reporting/analytics

Price

  • Available upon request

7. LabWare LIMS: A Leading LIMS for 30 Years

LabWare LIMS dashboard

LabWare LIMS is a leading LIMS for around 30 years. It guarantees data compliance and integrity, precise test results, and more efficient outputs. It has around 3,000 users, which include Pfizer, Hershey, Chevron, NIH, USDA, and GSK. It also has a 98% customer satisfaction.

Features

  • User access settings
  • ELN support
  • Sample management
  • Document management
  • Workflow management
  • Instrument management
  • Inventory management
  • Inventory control
  • Billing management
  • QA/QC
  • Data warehouse

Price

  • Contact LabWare LIMS to know their pricing plans.

8. LIMSey: Built for Physical and Engineering Testing Labs

LIMSey dashboard

LIMSey is a flexible and simple web-hosted solution built especially for physical and engineering testing laboratories. It has a modern and easy-to-use user interface that does not take weeks to be configured. It helps to swiftly monitor workflows and schedule resources, among others.

Key Features

  • Configurable workflow
  • Workflow management
  • Specification management
  • Sample tracking
  • Document management
  • Document storage
  • Approval process control
  • Barcode/ticketing scanning
  • Barcode printing
  • Barcode recognition
  • Barcoding/RFID
  • Data import/export
  • Data storage management
  • Data visualization
  • Order management
  • Resource management
  • Access control/permissions
  • Certificates of analysis
  • Compliance management
  • Compliance tracking
  • Reporting and statistics
  • Testing/QA management

Price

  • Contact LIMSey to find out about its pricing plans.

9. LabVantage: The Tool for Quality ELN, LIMS, and Business Intelligence

Labvantage dashboard

LabVantage provides an all-inclusive portfolio of services to laboratories, including medical laboratory software. They offer some of the best LIMS software, ELN tools, and business intelligence solutions. It offers better results by turning data into knowledge. Over 1,500 worldwide customer sites across industries use this software. It fits all laboratory types and all disciplines looking for a progressive and 100% web-hosted platform.

Key Features

  • Electronic signature
  • Sample management
  • Audit management
  • Compliance management
  • Calibration management
  • Data import/export
  • Data storage management
  • Data security
  • Inventory management
  • Access controls/permission
  • Lab instruments integration
  • Lab order management
  • EMR/EHR
  • Protocol/SOP management
  • Reporting analytics

Price

  • Free trial
  • Pay per user

10. WeLIMS: A Handy, Economical, and Efficient LIMS

Welims dashboard

WeLIMS is a handy, economical, and efficient LIMS that manages all incoming and outgoing flows. It enables the configuration of methods, defining the specifications for raw materials and products, managing product traceability, and more. Overall, it makes sure that laboratory personnel always come up with the best decisions.

Key Features

  • Complete configuration of Products, Raw Materials, and Methods
  • File integration
  • Sample management and traceability
  • Document management
  • Document storage
  • Approval process control
  • Test data management
  • Data import/export
  • Data visualization
  • Audit trail
  • Role-based access to certain management modules
  • Analytics reporting
  • Certification of analysis
  • Barcode printing
  • Barcode recognition
  • Compliance tracking
  • English, French, and Spanish languages

Price

  • Free version
  • Free trial
  • Starts at $30 per month

11. STARLIMS: Supports Organizations’ Ever-Changing Data Management Requirements

STARLIMS dashboard

STARLIMS‘s solutions are built especially to support ever-changing data management requirements across organizations. Its elite LIMS and other informatics tools gather, manage, and interpret data. Its robust data visualization functionalities help its analytics solutions equip researchers to make the right decisions when it comes to organizational operations.

Key Features

  • Double data entry
  • Web- and cloud-hosted solutions for rapid deployment
  • Rules manager
  • Document management
  • Compliance management
  • Compliance tracking
  • EDI
  • Electronic data capture
  • Data import/export
  • Data storage management
  • Instrument management
  • Sample tracking management
  • Quality control management
  • Specialized microbiology tools
  • Lab operations enhancement tools
  • Reporting tools
  • Billing solutions
  • Tools for growing lab volume and outreach
  • Mobile apps
  • Remote access
  • EMR/EHR
  • Certification of analysis
  • Advanced analytics

Price

  • Contact STARLIMS to discover its pricing packages.

12. LabArchives: Used by More Than 600 Research Organizations and Higher Education Lab Programs

LabArchives dashboard

LabArchives focuses on a researcher’s proficiency in using an intuitive and secure cloud-hosted ELN. Its ELN solution is used by more than 600 research organizations across the world and numerous higher education lab programs. It also offers an ELN solution for education and research.

Key Features

  • Chemical sketching
  • Complete audit trail
  • Commenting, alerts, and mentions
  • Data encryption in transit and at rest
  • Customizable user experience
  • Templates and calculators
  • Image annotation
  • In-app collaboration
  • Hierarchical user roles and permission

Price

  • Contact LabArchives to learn more about its pricing plans.

13. Benchling: An Easy-to-Use ELN with a Unified Environment

Benchling dashboard

Benchling is an easy-to-use ELN that offers a hassle-free and unified environment where researchers can collect data. Its features nurture a unified data capture capability throughout applications, allow for visibility and data integrity, and lessen data entry time by around 80%. It comes with the life sciences research and development Cloud, which boasts reintegrated applications, like workflows, Registry, Inventory, and Molecular Biology. It launched the Benchling Validated Cloud in January 2021, making it simpler for researchers to view the same data they worked early on or in their late stages.

Key Features

  • Extensive search function
  • Collaboration tools
  • Task management
  • Electronic signature
  • Data storage
  • Data access authorization
  • Data import/export
  • Sample management
  • Inventory management
  • Compliance management
  • Protocol templates
  • Protocol/SOP management
  • Access controls/permissions
  • Reporting/analytics

Price

  • Contact Benchling to discover its pricing details.

14. eLabFTW: Made by Researchers for Researchers

ElabFTW dashboard

Free and open-source eLabFTW aids researchers in logging and tracking experiments with its intuitive interface. It is made by researchers for researchers, taking reliability into account. This tool is available in 13 languages and can be used by anyone, even those without any IT knowledge. It is fully compliant with Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, paragraph 11, FERPA, HIPAA, and FISMA.

Key Features

  • Advanced search
  • Advanced query tools
  • Tagging
  • Color-coded status for experiments
  • Internal linking
  • Linking an experiment with an item from the database
  • Version control
  • Experiment templates
  • Experiment duplication
  • Comment feature on experiments
  • Customizable database
  • Inventory management
  • Scheduler
  • Data import/export
  • Strong encryption, best practices, and modern codebase
  • Timestamps
  • Integration with some laboratory equipment
  • Protection tools
  • Markdown support
  • Internalization support
  • Cross-platform support

Price

  • Free

15. Labstep: Streamlines Processes and Data Governance

Labstep dashboard

Labstep provides features like collaboration and sharing, inventory management, software integration, and protocol library and instrument. Being among the leading reference management software today, it also comes with an ELN cloud tool that merges all gathered data. It helps researchers to save time from the tedious task of manual processes and data governance.

Key Features

  • Shared workspaces for teams or projects
  • Comment on anything and mention others
  • Can embed Spreadsheets or code capsules
  • Can organize standard procedures into collections and track their various versions
  • Insert interactive Chemical Reaction Schemes and Plasmid Maps
  • Fully equipped inventory management
  • Data encryption
  • Progress tracker
  • Manage protocols
  • Manage device bookings and track servicing and calibration dates
  • Universal Device Client
  • Timers and interactive elements
  • Easy import and conversion
  • Reference inventory, protocols, and devices used
  • Control permissions with custom roles
  • Browser-hosted solution
  • Open API

Price

  • Free for academia
  • On request for enterprise

16. Labii ELN & LIMS: Power Options Through Customization

Labii ELN & LIMS dashboard

Labii ELN & LIMS enables the inclusion of widgets to promote its functionality and fulfill certain user needs. Aside from their fundamental uses, these extra features enable the addition of a PCR reaction or molecular structure on notes. As a whole, Labii gives freedom to its customers when it comes to customization.

Key Features

  • Easy-to-use and intuitive design
  • High customization and flexibility
  • Rich text features
  • Fast resolutions
  • Fast response times
  • Any type of file can be placed on notes
  • Various tables
  • Improved document efficiency
  • Workflow improvement and configuration
  • Data auto-saving
  • Data security
  • Cross-references
  • Controlled permissions
  • Widgets

Price

  • Free trial
  • Free version for 1 year
  • Professional plan, $479
  • Enterprise plan. $959

17. FindMolecule: A Chemical Inventory and an Online ELN for Biologists and Chemists

FindMolecule dashboard

FindMolecule is both a chemical inventory and an online ELN for biologists and chemists. It hosts two types of experiment pages: one is designed particularly for chemists, with tables and reaction drawings while the other is suitable for other experiments.

Key Features

  • Collaboration tools
  • Electronic signature
  • File sharing
  • Compliance management
  • Data import/export
  • Data storage management
  • Inventory management
  • Project management
  • Sample management
  • Access controls/permissions
  • Protocol/SOP management
  • Reporting and statistics
  • Certificates of analysis
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Data encryption

Price

  • Free for academic use

18. Scilligence ELN: Facilitates Collaboration Among Labs and CROs

Scilligenceli ELN dashboard

Scilligence ELN is a web-hosted ELN. It is generally customizable depending on the user’s preferences. It harbors collaboration among labs and CROs. It is compliant with 21 CFR part 11 and certified by ISO.

Key Features

  • Huge selection of user-vetted experiment templates
  • Supports multiple browsers
  • Strong structure, sequence, and text search
  • Scalable and customizable
  • Cross-platform
  • Internal and external collaborations
  • Hassle-free workflow integration with other database systems
  • Proprietary indexing functionalities
  • Proprietary informatics engine
  • Data reader technology
  • Data encryption
  • Smooth integration with registration, inventory, and assay data warehouse
  • Mobile app
  • Touch-optimized
  • Suits GXP environments
  • No software installation needed
  • Supports Hierarchical Editing Language for Macromolecules (HELM)
  • API
  • Full IP and security protection

Price

  • Contact Scilligence to know its pricing plans.

19. RSpace: Research Data Frameworks for 21st-Century Universities

RSpace dashboard

RSpace is an ELN that perfectly fits into the research data frameworks of 21st-century universities. It features impressive capture, management, and sharing of data. It integrates well with data storage applications, research platforms, and data archives.

Key Features

  • Functionalities of an ELN, SDMS, and connected file management in one location
  • Old versions of documents are never overwritten or deleted
  • Easy access to the full history of documents
  • Proper role-based access to features and subsets of data for dynamic yet simple subpopulation of scientists
  • IP protection
  • Can be used across devices
  • Built-in messaging
  • Slack-integrated
  • Intuitive view
  • Edit permissions
  • Ability to disseminate tasks that integrate with one’s choice of system calendar
  • Can be connected to Google Drive, Dropbox, MS OneDrive, and Mendeley
  • Can be connected to the lab’s existing eCAT sample tracking system
  • Search, track, or reuse data or documents 24/7 in any location

Price

  • Free version
  • Starts at $120 per user per year

20. LabCollector ELN: A Lab Management Solution and an ELN

LabCollector dashboard

LabCollector ELN serves both as a laboratory management solution and an ELN. Here, researchers can store notes and track samples. Data are placed with a barcode to quickly recover the correct sample. This tool can be used by teams with various access rights. It also enables inventory management. It is customizable, too, helping you adjust to the specifications of your lab.

Key Features

  • Laboratory management solution + ELN
  • Easy-to-use and creative interface
  • Barcoding
  • Inventory management
  • Customizable
  • Mobile

Price

  • Free (advanced paid features)

The Rise of ELNs

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Frances Arnold announced at the beginning of 2020 that she was withdrawing a paper due to its unreproducibility. Many sympathized with her and praised such openness. Yet, this instance also reminds everyone of the consequences of relying too much on traditional laboratory notebooks—a key point highlighted by this compilation of the best ELN software you will find in the market today.

ELNs indeed have the potential to answer accuracy- and reproducibility-related questions. Generally, the positive trends toward these software are on the rise. And it is an interesting yet challenging time to try them and enter a new era in the field of science.

 

References:

  1. Goraai, R. (2022, April 11). What is an Electronic Lab Notebook and Why Might You Need One? Trotons.
  2. Huchet, B. (2021, March 30). 2021 Review of the Best Electronic Laboratory Notebooks. Labs Explorer.
  3. Kwok, R. (2018, August 6). How to pick an electronic laboratory notebook. Nature.
  4. Redoxoma Newsletter. (2019, February 28). The Electronic Lab Notebook: Am I going to have one? Redoxoma Newsletter.
  5. Software Suggest. (n.d.). LIMSey Reviews & Product Details. Software Suggest.
  6. SourceForge. (n.d.). RSpace. SourceForge.
  7. SourceForge. (n.d.). Scilligence ELN. SourceForge.

Newsletter & Conference Alerts

Research.com uses the information to contact you about our relevant content. For more information, check out our privacy policy.