Maximizing Lab Efficiency with Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) Software

Laboratory notebooks are essential components of the scientific process because they allow researchers to record hypotheses, methods, results, and analyses.

They also serve as organizational tools and memory aids, assist reproducibility, reduce duplication of effort, and play an important role in intellectual property protection.

Electronic systems have gradually replaced pen-and-paper note-taking. Electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) are purpose-built software environments to make laboratory note-taking procedures faster, more reliable, and more versatile.

Image credit: Shutterstock / Studio Romantic

Switching to an ELN allows labs to consolidate mixed-format records, such as paper notebooks and spreadsheets, into a single software environment, which provides several benefits:

  • Template creation for faster and more consistent record-keeping
  • Easily searchable notes
  • Access to historical data records
  • Data back-up and protection
  • Structured organization of projects and controlled access to records
  • Easy remote access and sharing via cloud storage
  • An audit trail of who did what, when, and why

Many ELNs are integrated into larger “laboratory informatics” software platforms, such as LIMS (laboratory information management systems), SDMS (scientific data management systems), and CDS (chromatography data systems), allowing companies to streamline the material and chemical development process.1

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the first ELNs were created as custom software systems. They are now a resource: a wide range of ELNs are accessible as off-the-shelf systems with differing degrees of flexibility and customizability.

Choosing the ideal ELN for your firm is a complex undertaking that is dependent on your individual aims. This article provides an overview of six of the most prominent ELN systems, along with their benefits and drawbacks. 


Bruker’s Arxspan Notebook is a chemical and biology-specific ELN system.2 Arxspan’s simplicity and flexibility are significant selling points: it can be fully implemented in under 24 hours and requires little to no training to use.

However, training and support are also included if more complicated setups are desired.

The Arxspan Notebook is totally cloud-based, accessible through a web browser, and does not require a local server or database. All data is securely saved, and data backups are performed on a regular basis. Moreover, upgrades and new versions are automatically distributed.

The Arxspan Notebook can also be seamlessly integrated with a variety of other software products, including Arxspan Analytical for automating instrument data collection and Arxspan Registration and Inventory for entity and sample management, as part of the larger Arxspan laboratory data management software suite.

The Arxspan Notebook is thus part of a versatile solution ideal for businesses of all sizes.

Users have praised the platform for its capabilities as a Chemical sketching tool as well as a plasmid/sequence editing tool (BioDrive) that can be incorporated within notebook entries, making it suitable for both small molecule research and analytical applications.


The Benchling Notebook is an electronic lab notebook designed primarily for biotech labs. Benchling allows data to be bidirectionally linked together to facilitate internal referencing, in addition to directly populating Notebook entries with results from instrument runs.

The Benchling Notebook also allows for the simple attachment of documents and the creation of Excel-style tables within Notebook entries.

Benchling claims that its ELN software is the most user-friendly in the industry, although some users have complained about its lack of flexibility and intuitiveness. Unlike Arxspan, sequence editing capabilities are not included in the notebooks. There may be additional charges for specific ELN add-ons as well. 


The Dotmatics Lab Notebook is intended to facilitate collaboration among scientists by providing a variety of adaptable templates to handle data from a variety of scientific disciplines, such as chemistry, biologics, and materials studies.

The Dotmatics ELN is designed for enterprise-level businesses and is web-accessible and fully searchable. It has a dashboard that allows users to search for information by experiment, notebook, or hierarchy.

Dotmatics ELN is part of Dotmatics’ completely automated research data management package, which also includes GraphPad Prism, SnapGene, Geneious Prime, Geneious Biologics, and other products.

Several users have commented on its poor assistance, which can be difficult for more complex applications that employ the whole data management package.


PerkinElmer worked with some of the world’s leading R&D firms to create its E-Notebook software for R&D applications, which includes critical features such as data collection, sharing, archiving, and intellectual property protection.

The ELN system is intended to provide a consistent workflow across large enterprises in order to facilitate collaboration and innovation.

Users of the PerkinElmer E-Notebook program cite simplicity and ease of use as important advantages. The software is designed for small molecule applications rather than biochemical applications and has fewer features.

The SnapGene integration, which requires a separate license and software download, provides some integrated sequence editing, although molecular biology support is minimal.


IDBS claims that its cloud-based E-Workbook is the best informatics platform for scientific research and discovery worldwide. IDBS’ E-Workbook, which touts flexibility as a key benefit, may be readily customized and scaled to meet a variety of organizational requirements.

The IDBS E-Workbook incorporates features often found in other lab informatics software tools, such as data capture and analysis, job requesting and management, and inventory management.

It also allows users to integrate any other systems or databases to create a unified picture of all available data across diverse research areas. However, some users have reported speed difficulties when uploading data or files. 

References and further reading

  1. Laboratory Informatics |Gartner.
  2. Electronic Laboratory Notebook.

About Bruker Arxspan


Arxspan is a global provider of cloud-based scientific informatics tools, founded in 2011. Our mission is to deliver cutting-edge technology solutions to customers across the globe, and we have achieved this through the release of our multi-tenant cloud ELN in the same year. Our ELN offers an enterprise-level feature set designed to support small biotech start-ups as well as global pharma.

In 2013, Arxspan collaborated with multiple customers to release the integrated Registration module, which has been a game-changer in the industry. In 2017, we released the Workflow module, which enables close coordination of compound/biologic request and fulfilment between companies and their external collaborators. Our latest addition, the Data Publisher, was launched to simplify the integration of Arxspan and other enterprise, legacy, and AI data platforms.

Today, Arxspan offers a comprehensive enterprise informatics suite comprising ELN, Chemical and Biological Registration, Chemical and Biological Inventory, and Assay Data Management, with system-wide search and reporting functionality. Our customers and users span North America, Asia, India, and Europe. We continue to deploy world-class platforms, tools, services, and best-in-class support to a rapidly growing customer base.

In 2019, Bruker Biospin acquired Arxspan as a strategic platform to bring SaaS-based enterprise tools to their customers. This acquisition has provided us with the necessary resources and support to ensure our continued success in the future.

We are excited to announce the launch of our latest product, BioDrive, which is a cloud-based platform designed to streamline the management of biological data. BioDrive provides a comprehensive solution for managing and sharing data, including genomic data, proteomic data, and bioassay data. It is designed to meet the needs of biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as academic institutions and research organizations.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce the latest updates to our Chemical and Reg modules. These updates include new features and functionalities that improve data management, streamline workflows, and enhance collaboration. With these updates, we continue to provide our customers with the tools they need to accelerate their research and development efforts.

At Arxspan, we are committed to delivering innovative solutions that empower our customers to achieve their goals. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and to providing them with the best possible tools and support.

Last updated: Apr 21, 2023 at 11:17 AM


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