The basic criterion for selection of the Kanter nominees and winners is quality. For researchers, this means scientific rigor. What indicators of rigor do the nominated studies exemplify?
By linking their ideas to theoretical schools of thought, the authors position their studies at the leading edge of existing knowledge. Their findings not only test their own hypotheses, but the propositions of entire theories. As the evidence for or against particular theories mounts, researchers can focus their energies on ideas with the greatest likelihood of being correct.
In addition to being large, many of the samples are randomly selected and/or nationally representative. When not large, samples typically comprise hard-to-find or theoretically important groups.
Many of the studies use longitudinal data. The data sources are also diverse, such as policy analysis, time-use studies, in-depth interviews, or public records of organizational performance.
Throughout the studies there are many examples of researchers developing creative solutions to research problems. A couple examples from past nominees include working around the problem of trying to develop a representative sample with limited resources and a pool of volunteer respondents (who usually aren’t representative) and using transition to retirement to reveal the dynamics of dividing household labor.