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What is your preferred digital lab notebook, and why?
To best understand which is most suitable, we first need to understand what each is designed for. 1. What is LIMS? A LIMS or laboratory information management system is a type of software designed to improve lab productivity and efficiency, by keeping track of data associated with samples, experiments, laboratory workflows, and instruments. Scientists working in LIMS software. A LIMS can feature specialized capabilities for research and development laboratories, process development and manufacturing labs, or bioanalytical laboratories. A proper LIMS acts as an additional member of your team, automating workflows and tracking all the important sample information, data, workflows, and QA/QC results in your lab generates each day. 2. What is ELN? An Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) is a software tool that in its most basic form replicates an interface much like a page in a paper lab notebook. In an ELN you can enter protocols, observations, notes, and other data using your computer or mobile device. It may well include functionality to encourage compliance with the organization’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). In contrast, a system designed for R&D use might be extremely free-form, allowing you to embed a diverse set of data types such as MS Word documents, JPEG image files, and raw chromatography data. In general, a LIMS excels in dealing with fixed repetitive tests and structured data while an R&D ELN excels with free form exploratory testing and development. However, over the past few years, the distinction between these systems has become increasingly blurred as vendors have incorporated features from ELNs into LIMS and LIMS into ELNs. KingDraw has also developed a KingELN with a built-in structured editor and LIMS. It has a powerful compound library, strong security authentication system, and openness ability. It also offers a good solution for academia and business corporations.
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So, which one is best for your lab? The answer might depend on how much time, freedom, and flexibility you think you need: ELN's have many features for small R&D labs which can lead to rapid, efficient, data-driven development. An ELN is great for small labs but can be a bottleneck in larger ones. You'll still need to build in a system to manage your data as well as to allow for manual document management, and to maintain your lab's quality of data; both are challenging in and of themselves. The only real question is whether you consider the R&D ELN an “interrogator” or a “recording device”. King ELN's are not only powerful but also secure, feature rich, and easy to use. Even if you don't end up using these specialized systems, keep in mind that for small to medium size laboratories, they certainly do provide the ability to.