The Stars are not Enough is a book by Joseph C. Hermanowicz, which focuses on the lives of different people at universities across the United States. The author explores the lives of sixty physicists across the United States and avails to the reader the lives that these scientists lead. Notably, the author is keen enough to include both young graduate professionals and older professionals who are well into their careers in his research. This facilitates him to come up with a diverse cast of characters who are in different professions. The book avails narratives from the interviewed scientists. There are stories about their lives regarding their ambitions and aspirations on which they were afflated due to the famous scientists such as Isaac Newton. The scientists are also honest enough to avail their failure stories where their disappointment, anxiety and tragedies are revealed. In this context, the scientists are also honest enough to reveal their limitations to the reader. Regarding the ambition, the scientists indicate that they are forced to consent to something less than scientific immortality or even a Nobel Prize when they start aging in their professions. The author employed a qualitative research design method that abounds from his data collection method, data analysis, paradigmatic differences and trustworthiness.
The first design employed by Joseph in his book is data collection. From the book, it can be deduced that the author did interviews with the various scientists who are included in the research. From the interviews, the author was able to come up with the information regarding the lives of the various scientists, who rank from success to failure. The main aim of the author was to establish the real experiences regarding the lives of the scientists, which he did successfully through the interviews that might have involved participant observation and interview with audio or videotape.
The second design and methodology employed by the author entail data analysis. From the book, it is evident that the author examined concepts and themes. This is evident from the fact that we can establish the lives of the scientists in terms of their ambitions and failures. For instance, from the book, we can deduct that the scientists strive for most of their lives to rival iconic scientists such as Newton and Einstein. However, with time, that ambition is reduced to an acceptance of nothing like immortal scientists or even a prospect of a Nobel Prize (Hermanowicz, 1998). Concepts are also explored in the book by the author. A concept which defines a successful scientist is explored as the scientists give their first-hand stories regarding their lives.
The case study is also employed in Hermanowicz’s book. Case study is an integral part of the qualitative research that touches basic things, which include purpose, method, analysis and outcome (Maxwell, 2005). In the book, the author avails in-depth experiences of various scholars in different fields. This information was achieved through the interaction between the author and the scientists. Notably, the author did not apply all the data collected in the text. This means that the information provided was synthesized, which falls under the analysis of information. The author also provides an in-depth description of the scientists’ experiences and this is considered as the outcome.
The author also adopts a historical approach of qualitative research in his work. This abounds from the fact that he devotes a graet part of his work to description and examination of the events of the past with an aim of understanding the present while at the same time anticipating potential future effects. From the book, the author combines interviews of both young and old scientists. This is the author’s attempt to educate the young scientists regarding future possibilities and failures. Additionally, under the methodology, the author utilizes research questions before he collects data and a clear proof of the qualitative research method (Maxwell, 2005).
Reliability and validity are also depicted in the author’s work. There is the use of the researcher’s personality, which depicts the way the author presents his information. It can be deducted that he tried to involve himself with the subject’s experience through his wording in the book. The fact that he managed to interview sixty scientists also proves that he was keen to live with data collection until no further information appeared. Bracketing, which is a feature of the historical approach to the qualitative research, is also depicted in the text. It is evident that the author tried his best to suspend what was known regarding the life of scientists as he focused on the essential information alone. The author also paraphrases the scientists’ words, which proves the maintenance of an open context. He includes all the relevant information about the scientists in the text without bias, which is referred to as setting aside of one’s preconceptions.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The first strength of the design and implementation abounds from the use of data analysis. From the book, it is evident that the author tried to establish the relationship among the concepts through the inclusion of an appendix in his work. This is a major step in qualitative research as it facilitates a thorough interpretation of the provided information. Secondly, the author has successfully utilized reliability and vigor. As a design, the author places his preconceptions aside and allows scientists to avail their own firsthand experience (Maxwell, 2005). This is done through paraphrasing. The data collection method used is also a score for the author. The merit of the interviews is that they avail firsthand information free from distortion or misinterpretation.
A significant weakness of the design and implementation is that there was no clustering and data categorizing. This could have facilitated for an easier understanding of the effects from the scientists’ life. However, the author just provides information randomly, which forces readers to come up with their own conclusions regarding the life of the scientists.
In conclusion, The Stars are not Enough is a book by Joseph C. Hermanowicz in his attempt to explore the lives of various scientists in terms of their failures, successes, fears and expectations. Qualitative research was employed in the collection of data for the book, and this abounds from the number of people that the author interviewed. Other integral components of qualitative research presented in the author’s work include data analysis, reliability, vigor and historical approach. Some strengths of the research work include the data collection through the interview, data analysis and setting aside of the author’s preconceptions. The book is a good for reading as it provides motivation to the reader while at the same time educating on essential issues regarding qualitative research.
- Hermanowicz, J. C. (1998). The stars are not enough: Scientists–their passions and professions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
- Maxwell, J. A. (2005). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.