The top 3 functions to look out for when selecting an electronic lab notebook (ELN) for translational research

The top 3 functions to look out for when selecting an electronic lab notebook (ELN) for translational research

The top 3 functions to look out for when selecting an electronic lab notebook (ELN) for translational research

We love to keep things organized however we do not really love organizing them. The process of writing things down, making copies, formatting, looking for data saved somewhere in a notebook or database, and printing again is time-consuming. More than 40% of the time in the lab is spent on redundant tasks and 17% of data is lost each year. 

Ever since the pandemic, many organizations from various industries have tried to digitize their existing papers & open system. In the research & development (R&D) field, many are considering the switch to electronic laboratory notebook (ELN), especially in translational research where frequent sharing of information across various stakeholders & data organizations is crucial.  

Considering the switch to ELN your R&D lab? With an array of options, we understand the struggle in deciding what to look out for when selecting a powerful electronic lab notebook for your laboratory needs. We have listed the top 3 key features you need to look out for when selecting the best electronic lab notebook software for your research needs.

Supports Running Mode of Optimal Data Management

It is important to look for an ELN that can unify everything from your ever-flowing & changing data on sheets, folders, paper, or OneNote in one reliable ELN solution. Some of the features that point to an ELN with a reliable data management ability are:  

  • Running Mode Task Manager (e.g., Scinote, Labguru); Keeps you informed on the real-time work and data of ongoing work across teams. This reduces the risk of data loss & you always know who did what and when. It should also function as a reminder to users of the task that they need to complete. 
  • Time-stamped Audit Trails & Electronic Signatures (e.g., Scinote); Traceability is especially important in translational research work as it often involves an influx of significant data frequently. Having proper traceable solutions in place can ensure that the workflow is undisputed and when an error arises, it can be quickly prevented or solved. 

Additionally, project managers, supervisors or professors manage projects & coordinate work between groups whose location, fields of work and work types may differ.

  • Strict Access Control; The R&D lab often contains gold information that has to be kept confidential. It is important to ensure that your ELN software has strict access control with unique usernames & passwords as well as restricted user permissions with assigned user roles.

Inventory Tracking and Management

Inventory management processes are often a separate set of workflow in labs. Laboratory supplies, reagents, lab equipment and instrument monitoring can be challenging and time-consuming. 

Some multifunctional electronic lab notebooks like Scinote and Benchling provide inventory management functions. This allows the interconnectivity of entries like quantity, uses, location, and storage of samples, reagents, primers and plasmids, instruments and other supplies. The inventory management feature should allow you to connect the inventory to your experiments, protocol and results. 

A top-tier ELN like Scinote allows users to manage samples and reagents inventory information in detail such as sample ID, related documents, status, and availability and assign samples to your results and protocols. As for reagents, you can create a central repository of reagents for your lab or the entire organization. Users can also use this feature to create stock replenishment notifications.


Time is essential in translational science. It was found in a case study that it takes an average of 37 minutes to record & organize data with a physical lab notebook and only 5 minutes with Scinote’s ELN. (Case study by Liane Kober, PhD from Germany). Therefore finding an ELN software that allows you to easily be connected to other software and databases.  

  • Integrated with Microsoft office (e.g., Scinote) 

Users can download their own data in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Microsoft Excel to Scinote. Additionally, users can edit it online via Microsoft online, which makes it more convenient. 

  • Insert chemical drawing (e.g., Scinote) 

In drug discovery companies, chemical drawing is a must in their research. Scinote is integrated with ChemAxon which is a chemical drawing tool. As users work on their experiments, they can draw molecules directly from the SciNote interface using ChemAxon. Not only general chemical molecules but the user can draw complex antibiotics, peptides, and even chemical reactions. This tool also can recognize common names for compounds and draws them for the user.

  • Multiple platforms compatible (e.g., Scinote) 

Your selected ELN software should also be supported by the common platforms used in your laboratory. Most ELN can be supported by SASS platforms, but not all support other platforms like windows, mac, iPhone, iPad and android. Scinote is able to be supported by all of the platforms mentioned above making it the most feasible to use in a diverse team. You can access Scinote’s ELN either online or on their mobile application anywhere and anytime. The Scinote app is a progressive web app (PWA) which is compatible with almost all devices. 

In conclusion, there are many ELNs available in the market. A powerful and essential part of forward-thinking modern life science is the implementation of laboratory data to be hosted digitally. An electronic laboratory notebook represents the future of growth for the R&D laboratory.

Interested to find out more about Scinote’s Electronic Laboratory notebooks? Reach out to us for free demo and trial sessions. 



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