LIMS and ELN what is the difference?
In a LIMS system, the sample and its processing are at the centre of the work, i.e. a defined workflow is usually assigned and processed when the sample is received.
An ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook) focuses on the efficient planning and management of experiments in the form of an electronic laboratory journal. The ELN focus is often on the management of unstructured data or results of experiments or syntheses, but also of recipes. These can be, for example, an excerpt from a book, results and images generated by laboratory equipment or a report generated by equipment, which are not always structured in the same way and thus cannot be automatically converted into structured data. Dialogue forms are supported, which support and enable entries in individually adapted forms, tables or large free-text fields as well as the recording of chemical structures, reaction equations or images. An ELN is not only a substitute for a classic laboratory journal. It can also be the basis for exchanging large amounts of data in global collaborations.
Possible areas of application
While a LIMS system often supports proof of correct processing in the regulated sector, ELN is an important part of research and development laboratories to ensure traceability and reproducibility of results. In an ELN system, all steps leading to methods are documented and the results are recorded in a central location.
ELN and LIMS have the same infrastructure requirements, often the ELN is also closely coupled with a LIMS.
Typical functions of an ELN
- Documentation of test preparations and procedures incl. results and partial results
- Documentation Ideas and Observations
- Sample management (partly also with connection from other systems)
- Inventory management (partly also with connection from other systems)
- Reporting and evaluation
- Master data management
- Raw data management
- Data Analytics / Visualisation
ELNs contain a lot of unstructured data. In this respect, the assignability, long-term storage and quick and easy searchability of the data is very important to enable later use. An ELN usually contains functions in the environment of full-text searches or for searching with chemical formulae.
ELN out of the box?
Like a LIMS, an ELN cannot be bought as a standard solution, ready to use. Every laboratory has different equipment and different instructions. In this respect, the introduction of an ELN must also include a conception and implementation phase.