There is no turnkey solution to electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) that works out of the box. Each ELN needs to be adapted to the special needs of the individual scientist or work group. To do so, you need to understand the processes in your lab in a detail that allows you to model them in an electronic workflow such as an ELN.


No ELN will ever be the solution to any of your problems, be it managing your research data or organising the relevant related information from your lab. However, an ELN can be a valuable tool to help you achieve your goals and to organise (parts of) your lab and your research. Simply don’t mistake the tool for the solution.

How does the LabInform ELN help you with this? Due to its very flexible and modular nature, being based on DokuWiki, and the many available plugins you can make it truly your own. Being designed with knowledge management in mind, DokuWiki can be turned into a fully working ELN, as shown here, just using the right set of plugins and a few design principles. The demo instance of the LabInform ELN (available at showcases how to model workflows typical for a spectroscopy lab using a digital infrastructure, here an ELN. Purposefully, similar questions are addressed in different ways to show the flexibility of the system.

Where to start?

As in classical project management, get an overview of and analyse your existing (analog) processes. Only then consider how you can map these processes using an ELN. Of course, this is the chance to streamline workflows and think through earlier decisions. Once you have a list of existing processes, identify those who will help you most when being mapped onto and converted into a digital workflow using an ELN. If it fits, start with pen and paper. Then start implementing first forms and templates in the LabInform ELN and play around, using real examples from your daily business. Get your inspiration from the workflows described in the user manual. And have a look at the demo instance of the LabInform ELN available online: