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2015 ELN Survey Results

Electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), one component of a lab’s information infrastructure, help laboratories capture and manage knowledge, streamline data management, protect intellectual property and foster collaboration. Both non-specific/generic ELNs (which compete directly against paper notebooks) and application/task-specific ELNs exist, each with their own fans.

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Top 6 Questions You Should Ask When Buying an Electronic Lab Notebook

  1. How local are resources and how available are resources for deployment, training and extensions? What is the timeline for availability and cost?
  2. How easy is it to extend the application? Does it require IT or super users? How long does training take to make modifications and how extensive is the API for modifications?
  3. How easy is it to get data back out of the system? Is all information indexed and searchable? Can users query and combine data from multiple experiments, not just return a list of experiments?
  4. What is the typical number of hours of admin time required to upgrade for a major release and a minor release?
  5. What level of support is offered? How many support staff are there, where are they located and what language do they support? How is the support rated by other customers?
  6. Is your IP system safe in their system? What is the chance the company will be around in five years? What is the chance that the company will switch technologies and force an expensive migration? What credibility does the company have in the past for delivering robust, scalable, secure, and 21 CFR Part 11 compliant systems?

Primary purpose for ELNs as reported by survey respondents:

Centralized data repositories 61%
Accelerating the documentation and reporting of experimentation 45%
Infrastructure for capturing, accessing and sharing experimental information 42%
Improve productivity 42%
Enabling scientists to collaborate effectively on multi-stage projects 32%
Intellectual property (IP) protection 21%
Improved communication between instruments and related software 13%
Workflow co-ordination across geographic and business boundaries 13%
Streamlined regulatory compliance 11%
Patent evidence creation 11%
Other 8%

Nearly 24% of respondents are engaged in purchasing a new ELN. The greatest challenges faced in the process include:

Staff adoption and integration
Investing in software that will become obsolete
Data migration into the new system
Integration with other systems
Demonstrating ROI
System selection
Gaining user buy-in

Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing an Electronic Lab Notebook:

Ease of use 83%
Security 76%
Service and support 63%
Up time 63%
Versatility 59%
Price 59%
Customization 58%
Web-based access 55%
Multi-platform 54%
Ease of installation 50%

For more information on electronic lab notebooks, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit

See the latest survey results here