Business communication: writing a SWOT analysis
Business communication: writing a SWOT analysis

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Business communication: writing a SWOT analysis

7.4 Using your own words

Described image
Figure 10 Using your own words.

In the previous activity you saw that Michael used his own words in the bullet points. It is very important to use your own words when making notes from a case study text in preparation for a written assignment as this will help you to avoid copying pieces of the original text. Copying chunks of original text when you write a business assignment does not show your tutor that you have understood the text. If it is done without using quotation marks and a reference, it can lead to accusations of plagiarism (see below). There will be some words and phrases, however, which will remain the same, especially if these are key concepts, for example: ‘global market’, ‘research and development’.

Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s work as your own without acknowledging the source. If you would like to find out more about what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, try some of the 5-minute activities on the Open University Library’s Being Digital [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website.

Another point to note is that Michael has used more formal language in the bullet points. The tone of the article itself is quite informal because Butler-Adams is being interviewed and therefore spoken language is used. In order to produce a more formal report on Brompton, Michael used formal language in his bullet points and, as you shall see later in this session, used these to write up his report.

Activity 11

Look more closely at how Michael transformed the words from the original text to make concise, formal bullet points for the ‘Threats’ section of the SWOT table and then answer the questions that follow.

Threats

Sentence or phrase in text Bullet point notes made by Michael
  1. Last year one of our competitors made 350,000 bikes
  2. investment could be undermined by a competitor that not only compares on quality but undercuts on price.
  3. the competition is getting better all the time.
  4. They will be taking revenue and investing in research and development and will come up with something better.
  5. ‘how do we fill the lull in the winter months?’

Threats

  • Competition from other manufacturers. 
  • Price undercutting from competitors.
  • Competitors’ research and development is improving their products.
  • Seasonal demand issues.

  

  1. Which two sentences were combined to make one bullet point?
  2. Which verb from sentence 2 was changed into a noun in the bullet points? What is the effect of this?
  3. Which non-essential information was left out of sentence 2 when Michael wrote the corresponding bullet point?
  4. Which non-essential information was left out of sentence 4?
  5. What are the more formal expressions that Michael uses for ‘come up with something better’ from sentence 4 and ‘how do we fill the lull?’ in sentence 5?
  6. Identify the key business concepts that Michael has used in the following bullet points.
    • Competition from other manufacturers. 
    • Price undercutting from competitors.
    • Competitors’ research and development is improving their products.
    • Seasonal demand issues.
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Answer

The overall result of these changes is that Michael has made concise notes to represent the information from the original case study. By making his language more concise and using his own words in the form of key concepts he is now well prepared to write his analysis of the case without the risk of copying from the original. His notes were also selective as the information had to be related to only one of the SWOT concepts, opportunities or threats.

  1. Michael combined information from sentences 1 and 3 to make one bullet point.
  2. He changed ‘undercuts on price’ to ‘price undercutting’. The effect of this is that the student now has a readymade noun phrase which is an abstract concept and can be used to make a well-formed sentence. For example, the student could say ‘Price undercutting could lead to …’ or ‘Brompton needs to guard against price undercutting’.
  3. The information considered not essential from sentence 2 was ‘investment could be undermined by a competitor that …’.
  4. The information considered not essential from sentence 4 was ‘they will be taking revenue and investing in’.
  5. More formal language is used so that sentence 4 – ‘come up with something better’ – becomes ‘improving their products’ and sentence 5 – ‘how do we fill the lull?’ – becomes ‘seasonal demand issues’.
  6. The key concepts are italicised:
    • Competition from other manufacturers 
    • Price undercutting from competitors
    • Competitors’research and development is improving their products
    • Seasonal demand issues

Discussion

The overall result of these changes is that Michael has made concise notes to represent the information from the original case study. By making his language more concise and using his own words in the form of key concepts he is now well prepared to write his analysis of the case without the risk of copying from the original. His notes were also selective as the information had to be related to only one of the SWOT concepts, opportunities or threats.

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