There has been, at various times, tension amongst sociologists between quantitative and qualitative approaches to doing research. Back in 1976, social scientist Donald T. Campbell wrote a research paper, “Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change,” [pdf] reflecting on the consequences of using the results from these types of research and raised questions about the uses to which quantitative data might be put. It led him to posit what has since come to be known as Campbell’s Law:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

This law was invoked by Nichols and Berliner in their article, “High-Stakes Testing Is Putting the Nation At Risk,” and their book Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools. They connect it to the negative consequences of the high stakes testing brought about through the No Child Left Behind act in education.

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