LIMS vs ELN: What’s the Difference?

Screenshot of Animal Census Facet

A blog article by Ashlie Reker, Ph.D.

Every scientist is familiar with the frustration that comes with rummaging through lab notebooks and spreadsheets trying to locate experimental details and data for reporting, publishing, or collaborating.

Digitalization of your research is the way to go, but do you need a LIMS or an ELN? What really is the difference between those two types of research management software? 

Ashlie Reker, Ph.D. explains further.

What are LIMS?

LIMS (Laboratory Information Management Software) streamline the collection and tracking of information and data linked with samples and projects, particularly structured laboratory information.

This information can include ID numbers, tests performed on the sample or project, and the information and data gained from these tests. LIMS are particularly adept at supporting structured workflows and can provide valuable QC/QA functionality. When all information and data are collected for a sample or project, LIMS can often generate reports for internal and external use.

What are ELNs?

ELNs (Electronic Laboratory Notebook) generally collect less structured data, such as tracking chemical compounds that may be altered between efficacy studies, or observations and ad hoc changes that one would traditionally scribble into a lab notebook.

ELNs may also provide graphing and analysis tools. These systems act as a repository for information and data traditionally collected from multiple, easily lost sources such as physical notebooks and paper.  By keeping such data safely in an ELN, it can be queried and assembled for reporting or analysis at any time.

What’s the Main Difference between LIMS and ELNs?

The main difference between LIMS and ELNs is that LIMS are associated with structured, repeated workflows and data while ELNs are associated with changing, flexible workflows and data.

Unsurprisingly, there is a growing need to integrate the traditional capabilities of LIMS and ELNs into one solution. Climb was developed in collaboration with in vivo scientists to create a scalable, in vivo research management solution with both ELN and LIMs capabilities. Climb offers a customizable platform that accommodates any research field and manages the research process from study design through sample collection.

Want to learn more about Climb 2.0?  Take the video tour or request a demo!