Why Researchers Want an ELN

Better productivity given as the top reason scientists want an ELN
Better organization, patent protection compliance, and modernization top the list of reasons given that CERF users wanted an ELN

Better productivity, particularly better organization, is the number one reason given by clients for wanting an ELN in their laboratories, according to our 2011 client survey report1. In that case they are in the right spot, as electronic lab notebooks are reported to improve efficiency by 25% or more2. Other major driving factors for implementing ELNs in research environments included regulatory compliance, modernization, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The survey was conducted among new CERF customers to discover what researchers themselves were looking for in an ELN solution today. Reasons given for choosing CERF over competitor ELN products included offering a comprehensive ELN solution, compatibility with both PC and Mac computers, our iPad app for portable note taking, and a reasonable price tag combined with a full feature set.

Top Reasons Given for Wanting an ELN


  • Organization and keeping records in order
  • Streamline workflows
  • Manage data in one place
  • Improve SOP functionality
  • Better management oversight
  • Task accountability
  • Document patent/time to invention


  • Witnessing notebook entries
  • Timestamps
  • Regulations
  • GxP Compatibility
  • ISO Certification
  • Solid documentation

“As [our organization] is a publicly traded company, [we] needed to be compliant with regulatory agencies”


  • Get off paper notebooks
  • Incorporate electronic media types
  • Virtual corporations using remote collaboration

“Trying to get off paper and streamline the process”

Data Retention

  • Employee Turnover
  • Graduating Students
  • Rotating Fellows

Security & Privacy

Interdisciplinary Collaboration


Why Choose CERF?

Overall ELN concept

  • Combination of document management and notebooks in one system
  • Ability to hierarchically organize data into Filing Cabinets, Notebook Collections, Notebooks, Sections, Pages
  • Ease of use
  • Forms-based entry capability
  • Did not require Oracle

“Toyed with others… but CERF had everything”

Cross-Platform & Mobility

  • Wanted something more than just web-based [platform]
  • Staff use Mac OS (50% of responders use Macs or combination of PCs/Macs)
  • iPad tablets to replace PCs in lab settings

“iPad for CERF [is] great in the laboratory because bringing a paper notebook into the laboratory is too dangerous. We bought extra licenses for those working in the laboratory.”

Sales representative / Support Staff

  • Ability to meet deployment deadline
  • In-person demo
  • Training
  • Understanding of researcher needs

Clients said they were “very happy with the speed the server was ready” and “post-sales training was excellent”


  • Works well for multidisciplinary research


One customer stated a competitor was “very expensive, too rigid… too document centric.”

Reasonably Priced

“Needed privacy and compliance with a reasonable price tag”

These findings reflect the real reasons scientists are choosing to work with ELNs in the current market. More information about how ELNs meet these needs can be found in our article “Why You Need to Buy an ELN Today,” which has other examples of solutions that ELNs provide such as minimizing financial costs and breaking the “reinventing the wheel” cycle.


1. 2011 CERF Post-Sales Survey Report, Rescentris, Inc. Marketing Department. Names/Identities of clients and competitors in survey responses have been removed in the interest of privacy.

2. “Lab Notebooks Offer Efficiency Gains: ELNs Help Companies Achieve their Goals by Providing Meaningful Workflow Improvements” Gail Dutton. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News http://www.genengnews.com/gen-articles/lab-notebooks-offer-efficiency-gains/1951/