Making use of the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a common practice of students in business programs. It is not a coincidence that the Internet has also discovered this, and has exploited the demand.
Example: Find and critique a SWOT analysis for PepsiCo.
PepsiCo SWOT Analysis & Recommendations is the first information source that a Google search provides. (Search date: 5/8/20)
Because this information source exists outside of the library's collections, you must initiate the reliability process that I discussed on the previous page, Evaluating Information.
Ask the following questions of this source of information.
1. Is the author(s) of the information source knowledgeable about what they are saying?
2. Are the human voices behind the publishing organization knowledgeable about what they are saying?
1. This PepsiCo SWOT was authored by a person named Justin Young. In most cases, it is easy to discover if an author(s) is knowledgeable about what they are saying. There is frequently a brief Author Note attached to the information source. For example, on the Introduction page of this guide I have included a link to the online book, Business Writing for Managers, written by Ken O'Quinn. On the reverse side of the title page there is a brief note about the author. It reads as follows, "Ken O’Quinn is a workshop leader and professional writing coach who has helped thousands of business professionals worldwide improve their ability to craft clear, compelling messages. He started Writing With Clarity following a long journalism career with the Associated Press and now conducts corporate workshops and provides one-on-one coaching." This author note is sufficient for us to establish the credibility of the author, and conclude our reliability process for the book Business Writing for Managers. (Excluding the fact that this online book lives within the library collections.) In cases where an author note cannot be found, a quick name search of the Internet will often prove sufficient.
In returning to the SWOT author, Justin Young, it appears that an author note is not present. We can only learn that the name Justin Young has been applied to a few other SWOTs within the publishing entity, the Panmore Institute. A name search of the Internet reveals no helpful information. To this point, the information source is failing the reliability test!
2. This particular PepsiCo SWOT was published by an entity called the Panmore Institute. Often times it is not difficult to discover the credentials of the individual(s) who hold the responsibility of publishing. In the example of the Business Writing for Managers online book, information about the publisher appears immediately below the author note. Here we learn that this book is part of a series published by TD at Work, which itself is published by the Association for Talent Development. Contact information for the Association is given, along with names for the following positions at TD at Work: Community Manager, Management, Editor, Managing Editor, and Production Design. All of this information is freely given in a transparent manner. The publisher stands behind its work and its authors!
In the example of the Panmore Institute, there are no names associated with the Institute! Contact with this publisher is only through generic, non-named email addresses!
It is almost as though no human is willing to be associated with this publisher!
Finally, it is possible to think critically about the information within the SWOT itself. At a glance, the information was only updated at the beginning of 2017, and is therefore no longer useful. There are no (in-text) connections within the document to the supplied references, the primary reference is a 2014 company annual report, and the majority of the references are related to the idea of the SWOT analysis, and not to the subject (PepsiCo) of the SWOT!
Therefore, this information source has failed the reliability test, and should not be used.
Keep in mind that this information source was the first return of a Google search!
The Real Deal
If you decide to step outside of the library's collections, the reliability process becomes added labor for you, and can consume valuable time. For most projects you encounter, the library's online collections will work very well. The SWOT analysis is one, among many elements covered in the library's collections.
Company Profile: PepsiCo Inc. (includes a SWOT analysis)