2012 ELN Survey Results

By Lab Manager

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs) are software programs that replace paper notebooks in the lab, but they are also more than that, helping to close the electronic gaps among and between data systems. Recently, ELNs have been part of the informatics convergence trend in laboratories, which has become particularly important in QA/QC labs where ELNs can streamline data review as well as help reduce mistakes and expensive retesting. Another current change going on is the addition of more functions to ELNs, especially in the areas of sample management and inventorying. However, these products have remained application-specific over the years with no universal ELN that can serve chemistry, biology, and quality workflows. We recently surveyed our readers about ELN use in their labs.

Readers were also asked what the primary purposes for their ELNs are. Here’s how they answered:

Centralized data repositories 16%
Improved communication between instruments and related software 5%
Accelerating the documentation and reporting of experimentation 21%
Workflow coordination across geographic and business boundaries 5%
Intellectual Property (IP) Protection 26%
All of the above 26%

The biggest challenges our surveyed readers faced in purchasing their ELNs were:

Investing in software that will become obsolete 19%
Data migration into the new system 8%
Staff adoption and training 26%
Demonstrating ROI 13%
System selection 7%
Gaining user buy-in 8%
Integration with other systems 15%
Other 3%

Most important features that impact our readers’ decisions to buy an ELN system:

  Important Not Important Don't Know
Ease of use 99% 1% 0%
Training 98% 2% 0%
Versatility 97% 1% 2%
Security 94% 3% 3%
Price 94% 4% 2%
Customization 94% 5% 1%
Service and Support 92% 5% 3%
Scalability 91% 7% 2%
Multi-Platform 89% 9% 2%
Ease of Installation 88% 9% 3%
Remote Access 81% 15% 4%
Web-based access 80% 14% 6%

Our respondents are most interested in speeding up the reporting and documenting of experiments in their labs. Here are the other main reasons they decided to purchase an ELN:

Upgrading existing ELNs 4%
Addition to existing systems, increase capacity 10%
Setting up a new lab 11%
Centralized data repositories 8%
Infrastructure for capturing, accessing and sharing experimental information 11%
Improved communication between instruments and related software 7%
Accelerating the documentation and reporting of experimentation 21%
Enabling scientists to collaborate effectively on multi-stage projects 4%
Workflow coordination across geographic and business boundaries 4%
Streamlined regulatory compliance 7%
Web-based access 10%
Other 3%

There are four main types of ELN installations; here are the kinds that our surveyed readers use in their laboratories:

Web-based 26%
Stand-alone 11%
Thin client/server 21%
Client/server 42%

The number of users who access the ELNs in our respondents’ labs:

1 to 10 33%
11 to 25 28%
26 to 50 17%
51 or more 42%

The vast majority of our readers are buying an ELN for the first time. Is this your first-time purchase of an ELN?

Yes 90%
No 10%

For more information on ELNs, visit www.labmanager.com/eln

See the latest survey results here

Categories: Surveys

Published In

Appifying the Laboratory Magazine Issue Cover
Appifying the Laboratory

Published: May 5, 2012

Cover Story

'Appifying' the Laboratory

In recent years, research labs have been a notable beneficiary as a variety of highly functional and specialized apps have gained the acceptance and even gratitude of a broad spectrum of laboratory managers, research scientists and bench technologists.