Informatics Systems: A Serving of Alphabet Soup

Informatics Systems: A Serving of Alphabet Soup

Depending on how long you have been working in the Lab Informatics industry, you may have noticed that the list of acronyms is endless; or at least it feels that way! Through this multi-part blog series, we will attempt to explain the most common acronyms.

What is a LIMS?

LIMS stands for Laboratory Information Management System. LIMS handles sample, lot, and test management and are used across numerous laboratory sectors’ QC and analytical space. They were created to eliminate human error and to expedite processes through automation.

Here are some advantages to using a LIMS:

  • Laboratory analyst’s schedules can be managed including assigning specific tests
  • Sample schedules can be observed to determine bottlenecks or if any sample will be completed late
  • All results from each test can be stored and even achieved
  • Results can be queried against; a huge perk during an audit
  • Reports can be generated for each phase of the sample lifecycle from analyst to QA Reviewer
  • Stability testing can be configured so that the stability group is notified when a pull needs to occur
  • An analyst can be alerted if their result is outside of specification
  • A manager can be required to sign off under any preconfigured circumstance including out of spec, handling controlled substances, etc.

The list of what it can do is really expansive depending on the time and budget for customization and/or configuration.


What is an ELN?

ELN stands for Electronic Laboratory Notebook, and as the name suggests, it is designed to eliminate the need for generic e-document systems and paper lab notebooks. The uses for ELNs are quite varied.

An ELN can also be used:

  • To store data associated with different runs (i.e., what incubator was used)
  • For chemical structure drawings through either linking to another application or having a tool internally
  • For storing experimental data that is constantly changing or being tracked overtime (i.e., micro results for variations of yogurt)

When configuring an ELN, the administrator can restrict data types and experiments or can leave the application relatively unlocked for testing.

What is an LES?

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN) can be used in both R&D and Quality environments. An ELN for the QA/QC analytical laboratory, sometimes referred to as an LES (Laboratory Execution Systems), is used in disciplines where the work is repeatable and qualified under the current conditions. The language used within the Quality ELN is such that the analyst understands it. To create the methods or tests within the Quality ELN, SOP (standard operating procedures) and pre-existing laboratory notebooks are used. These generally have the capability to require manager sign offs at preconfigured times and can require a review and/or approval before reporting on or releasing results.

What laboratory acronyms have you been curious about? Leave a comment below for it to be featured in our next edition of Alphabet Soup!

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