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2019 Review of the Best Electronic Laboratory Notebooks

Labs Explorer on April 5, 2019

© Designed by / Freepik - Adaptation by Scientist

An electronic laboratory notebook or ELN is, as Harvard defines “a software tool that in its most basic form replicates an interface much like a paper in a paper lab notebook”. Despite having been around since the 1990s their use is just beginning to spread throughout the scientific community, according to Nature. Which is why they are rapidly evolving to accommodate the needs of scientists and are becoming a necessary tool in many laboratories around the world.

A brief history of electronic laboratory notebooks’ features

When ELNs first entered the market of scientific software, they were just paper laboratory notebook transposed to the computer. At the time, the features were built around templates for the transcription of experiments. Some ELNs still have that way of thinking according to Charles Parnot, CTO and co-founder of Findings.

Nowadays most ELNs take advantages of digital capabilities.

ELNs are more reliable and secure than paper, all data collected end up in the same place. They facilitate the collaboration inside the lab and outside the lab with partners all around the world. Monitoring of protocols and their standardization are important features to enable reproducibility of experiments.

Most ELNs offer services that go beyond basic features.

Security is a major strength of ELNs. They are password protected and you have the ability to control who can see what you do in your lab. Some ELNs, like eLabFTW, are also trying to further data and parenting protection with the integration of official timestamps for experiments.

ELNs providers don’t intend to stop here. They start to include even more integrations with laboratory equipment. For Matt Dunie, president and co-founder of LabArchives, ELNs are going to become “research data management systems” and support the workflow as much as possible.

The comparative list of ELNs features

In 2017, we released a list of ELNs. As the solutions evolve quickly, it is now time to release an updated list. We have designed this list as a way for you to easily find the ELN solution that is most relevant for you.

Before you jump in the list, make sure you made a list of your current need and how it can be translated into a feature. Labfolder released a scoreboardto evaluate options when choosing an ELN.

The different ELNs have been ranked according to a score that includes the following criteria:

  • User-friendliness: ELNs with an intuitive interface get up to 5 points
  • Completeness: ELNs offering all the basic features and many useful tools like inventory management or integrative login get up to 5 points
  • Connectivity: ELNs that could be interfaced with equipment and other software get up to 5 points
  • Price: ELNs have been ranked on the average price per user per month and given points from 0 to 5
  • Special bonus points are given by our Scientist’s team members up to 5.

Download the full list of ELNs

Some providers of software solution offer highly customizable solutions. Since the features differ and are not standardized they could not be compared. Therefore, they are not listed here. Also, a few ELNs are not listed since Scientist couldn’t gather enough material to come up with relevant information.


Labfolder is edited by Labforward GmbH, it offers an ELN and a complete laboratory execution system (LES) that manages all research documentation in a productive and collaborative manner.

The ELN features a user-friendly interface combined with ease of navigation, search functionality for data retrieval, and an inventory that can be directly linked to the lab notes.

Protocols & SOPs can be saved as templates and shared amongst group members while communication apps facilitate the discussion of research data directly in the lab notebook.

Labfolder complies with standard FDA, ISO & GMP/GLP regulations.

  • Online tool (SaaS), On-premise server solution
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free for up to 3 users
  • Timestamps, digital signature
  • On Scientist
  • Visit the website


LabArchives is one of the most used ELN in the world. It features a lot of widgets for users and you can also create them to personalize the ELN as much as you’d like. They support much of the research workflow.

LabArchives’ founders come from an academic publishing background, which is why they created their ELN. They aim to become a research data management system.

  • Online tool (SaaS), Mobile app
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free (advanced paid features)
  • Integration with LIMS, adaptability to your needs
  • On Scientist


SciNote is a platform for researchers in academia or industry. It blends an electronic lab notebook, inventory management, and project management functionalities. SciNote uses data security protocols to protect the privacy and integrity of exchanged information.

SciNote is easy to use and intuitive. It is composed of inventory and protocol management tools, automated reporting, team collaboration features, and experiment templates. SciNote is compliant with the 21 CFR part 11 and the GLP.

  • Online tool (SaaS), software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free (paid Premium Academia and Industry plans)
  • Export all, integration with other software
  • On Scientist


eLabFTW is a free and open-source software. It helps researchers log and track experiments through a simple and intuitive interface. It is designed by researchers for researchers with usability in mind. eLabFTW is available in 13 languages thanks to the involvement of the community of users. The software is easy to use without any IT background even if basic knowledge in coding would help.

eLabFTW is a server software (PHP/MySQL) and should preferentially be installed at the institution level. Although it can be installed just for a team, or on a personal computer. It is supported by the Institut Curie.

  • Open-source software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free
  • Timestamps, integration with some lab equipment
  • On Scientist


Benchling provides scientists with an all-in-one productivity suite for managing their day-to-day experiments, structuring shared templates and protocols, and tracking experiments across collaborators.

They also offer a free and complete set of tools for sequence visualization, cloning, CRISPR, and other molecular biology tasks, integrated with their ELN. You can embed DNA and protein sequences directly within the notebook entries. Advanced notebook functions include electronic signatures and custom data access policies. In May 2020 they launched Benchling Insights - a solution for data querying, visualization, and collaboration, integrated with all Benchling’s applications.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For molecular biology, biology & chemistry
  • Free (advanced paid features)
  • Timestamps, Free for academics

Labii ELN & LIMS

Labii allows the addition of widgets in order to increase the functionality and meet specific user requirements. These added capabilities allow users to add a molecular structure or a PCR reaction into their notes, along with other additional uses. Labii provides the customers the freedom of personalization.

Labii allows its users to pay as they go, per record created for as low as $0.10. A subscription-based plan is also available.

  • Online tool (SaaS), software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Pay per use
  • Integration with LIMS, pay per use
  • On Scientist


eLABJournal includes modules for sample tracking and protocol management. All data is automatically and safely stored in the cloud or your own servers.

Experiments can be signed and counter-signed with electronic signatures to be locked for further modification in accordance with the FDA 21 CFR part 11 guidelines.

Plus, mobile access is available through the mobile App.

  • Online tool (SaaS), Mobile App
  • For life sciences
  • Price on request
  • App available, workflow management
  • On Scientist

LabCollector ELN

LabCollector is both an electronic notebook and a lab management tool. You can store your notes and track your samples.

Data stored are identified with a barcode to easily retrieve the right sample. LabCollector allows you to manage inventory. The system is customizable to adapt to the specificity of your lab, even for non-informaticians.

The notebook is accessible by the team with different access rights.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For all scientific project management
  • Free (advanced paid features)
  • Integrated with LIMS, customizable
  • On Scientist


Findings helps researchers and scientists keep track of their experiments, meetings, and projects, and builds a detailed record of their activities. Findings is easy to browse and search.

The ELN is available on all iOS devices, and so allows access to the contents from everywhere.

  • iOS Software and Mobile app
  • For all scientific fields
  • A free and paid version
  • Progress tracker, quick access to resources


Uncountable provides ELN functions with structured-data storage and project management. Uncountable gathers all R&D data in one place to which scientists have access. With its AI-based algorithms, it offers interesting combinations and promising experiments to be carried out.

To get the most out of Uncountable, data must be entered in a way that is structured and conducive to analysis.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For chemistry engineering fields
  • Enterprise-only solution
  • AI-based suggestions for experiments


RSpace is designed for labs wanting a compliant and secure documentation platform. The platform is intuitive and easy to use.

RSpace provides tools to enhance your existing workflow.

Linking and unique IDs, added to search capability, help simplify the finding of data and documents and the relations between them.

RSpace integrates with a wide range of general purpose and science-specific tools.

  • Online tool (SaaS), software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free (advanced paid features)
  • Data encryption, intuitive
  • On Scientist


Hivebench’s interface is intuitive and user-friendly. And, thanks to the integrated Chemical Editor, Hivebench’s users can add, draw and edit molecules as part of their experiments. Through the ELN network, users can collaborate on experiments, access shared protocols and reagent databases. Electronic signatures and secure data trails make research results easily traceable, with full transparency regarding who was involved in data entry and who has accessed it.

Hivebench allows users to publish their protocols in a public protocol library and makes relevant research data publicly available via its integration with the open data repository – Mendeley Data.

  • Online tool (SaaS), Software, Mobile apps
  • For Life Sciences & chemistry
  • Free (Paid institutional addition – quote upon request)
  • Electronic signature, automatic backups


LabCloud provides scientists with the tools to manage all of their information in one place. Their biggest strength is their inventory feature that not only lets you manage your supplies but also order directly new materials from the ELN’s interface.

They integrate with Microsoft Office.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For Life Sciences
  • Free
  • Order directly from inventory feature, security compliant

Find Molecule

FindMolecule is an online ELN and chemical inventory for chemists and biologists.

They feature two kinds of experiment pages: one specifically for chemists with reaction drawing and tables and another one made for other types of experiments.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For chemistry and biology
  • Free (advanced paid feature)
  • Intellectual property protection, data encryption

OpenScience Framework

OpenScience Framework is one of the few ELNs that is open-source. Which means you can customize it as much as you want.

The ELN also lets you choose which parts of your project you want to share with your team.

  • Open-source software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free
  • Access control, view project analytics

SciCord ELN

SciCord combines the compliance and structured aspects of a laboratory information management system (LIMS) with the flexibility of an ELN. They integrate directly with lab instruments.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For all scientific fields
  • Price on request
  • Integration with lab instruments, Security compliance


Labguru is a secure, compliant, web and cloud-based ELN.

Labguru instantly records and manages laboratory data and inventory all in one place.

Labguru features an increased data quality, allows you to reduce the time and costs. They provide secure access anywhere in the world from any device.

Labguru is the flagship product of BioData.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For life science, biotechnology & pharmacology
  • From 10€/month/user
  • Intellectual property protection, Mobile access


BrightLab is an ELN developed by Merck for life science researchers.

BrightLab has a user-friendly interface that allows managing experiments with protocols and data storage. It connects directly with equipment to collect data. BrightLab aims to manage the lab in a user-friendly way with equipment maintenance reminders and an inventory feature.

The e-signature feature is compliant for FDA 21 CFR Part 11 regulation.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For life science fields
  • Protocols management
  • Connectivity with equipment


Docollab is a collaborative workspace.

It essentially produces and shares documents between several members of a team. All data are encrypted to ensure security. Docollab also allows the creation and editing of spreadsheets, diagrams, and molecular sketches. It also includes task and milestone management, and full-text search for all the content. Docollab Pro adds administrative features for advanced user access and local backup.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free (advanced paid features)
  • Integration with LIMS, Revision control


Labstep is an ELN created within the University of Oxford by scientists. It allows you to plan experiments, import protocols and add the results of your experiments. It also features a progress tracker which lets you see what is left to do on your experiment.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free for academia, price on request for enterprises
  • Data encryption, Progress tracker


With LabTwin, scientists can collect data, access information, manage experiments and streamline documentation simply by talking. Using voice recognition and machine learning technology, LabTwin’s smart assistant simplifies data capture, structures valuable information, and provides suggestions to scientists in real-time. LabTwin enables the creation of a shared library of protocols, templates, materials, samples and lab equipment. Automatic timestamps allow tracking every change.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For all scientific fields, Life Science
  • Freemium, Entreprise offer based on subscription
  • Voice-activated features, machine-learning-based suggestions

Indigo ELN

Indigo ELN is an open-source software that lets you customize the software according to your needs. A new feature lets you adjust the ELN to your needs in terms of user access policy, integration with databases and registration with electronic signature services.

  • Open-source software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free
  • Flexible template structure, Integration with personal databases

CERF 5.0

CERF is an ELN and knowledge asset management system that has its own client application for Mac, Windows, and iPad. The client application connects to a server that can be installed on your own hardware within your firewall, or on a cloud server of your choice. CERF features PKI digital signatures and advanced semantic metadata and search engine features.

  • Software
  • For all fields of commercial research
  • From $300 per user license
  • Secure data, Integrate LIMS features
  • On Scientist


Mbook includes a molecular sketcher.

Besides, the usual note-taking and data organizing features, you can analyze data directly on Mbook. Text and structure are searchable to retrieve information. You can track the workflow of experiments and projects. Mbook lets several people can collaborate and discuss together.

  • Online tool (SaaS), Software
  • For chemistry
  • From 10€/month/user
  • In-app messaging system, Experiment supervision


The ELN E-WorkBook is made for global work management at a company level. You can manage and store files and data. You can design and execute protocols. The software supports data entries from lab instruments and other data management tools. E-WorkBook provides information about the inventory.

  • Software
  • For biotechnology, pharmacology
  • Intellectual property protection, Integration with tools inside the lab

Core ELN

Core ELN is a flexible, highly scalable solution for capturing, analyzing, managing and sharing data. It enables lab managers and scientists to seamlessly share data and results organization-wide in an environment that is 21CFR11 compliant.

  • Online tool (SaaS)
  • For biology & chemistry
  • Integration with LIMS, Integration with lab instruments

Scilligence ELN

Scilligence is a web-based ELN. It is entirely customizable based on the customer’s needs. Scilligence furthers collaboration between labs as well as with CROs.

Scilligence is 21 CFR part 11 compliant and ISO certified in quality and security.

  • Online tool (SaaS), Mobile App
  • For biology & chemistry
  • Data encryption, Mobile friendly

Signals Notebook

Signals Notebook is a cloud-native lab notebook developed by PerkinElmer. It provides a scientific research data management solution with drag & drop, store, organize, share, find and filter data with chemical ease. It provides the necessary feature to connect and collaborate on projects with colleagues and collaborators.

User-friendly features are available thanks to integrations with Office or Office Online, ChemDraw, ChemACX, ChemSearch and so on.

  • Online tool (SaaS), software
  • For chemistry
  • Price on request
  • Integration with ChemDraw, ChemACX and ChemSearch


There are a few versions of the E-Notebook from PerkinElmer depending on your research field. It allows to annotate, organize and visualize data in a single software. The software supports data entries from hardware and software.

  • Software
  • For biology, chemistry
  • Integration with workflow tools, Intellectual property protection


OpenLAB ELN is a software made to structure documents and easily take note on the lab bench, you can dictate notes by voice. Data may be analyzed directly on the ELN: compare data sets, import metadata, and management protocols. It supports request tracking and collaborative features. An electronic signature is available on this software.

  • Software, Mobile app
  • For life science, chemistry
  • Price under request
  • Integrated into LIMS, Flexible platform


The ELN ELNOME has not changed much in the last couple of years. It was developed on Microsoft Access and is free to use, so no install is required. The database is portable and it features timestamps for your experiments.

  • Online Tool (SaaS)
  • For all scientific fields
  • Free and pro plan
  • A portable database, Timestamps

LabWare ELN

LabWare ELN and LIMS support lab management lets you record experiments, watch the workflow and features an inventory module.

The notebook interface is based on a spreadsheet structure with navigational tabs. Data can be captured directly from instruments or analysis systems.

  • Software
  • For all scientific fields
  • Price under request
  • Integration with LIMS, Integration with lab instruments

NuGenesis ELN

NuGenesis is designed to document experiment, control protocols, and ease the collaboration. It allows input from other software.

  • Software
  • For life sciences, chemistry
  • In-app messaging system, Integration with LIMS

We did not include BIOVIA Notebook in our review because we received bad feedback from a student at KTH that reported a loss of data. But “to be fair, it should be said that there are still benefits from using this ELN. Browsing experiments are easier (although loading is a bit slow) compared to paper notes, and transferring notes to manuscripts is also faster. In some instances, I have also found it useful to be able to see my colleagues’ notes.”