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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Wiederlight, M. (1966). The Wild Analyst. By Carl M. Grossman, M.D. and Sylvia Grossman. New York: George Brazillier, 1965, 222 p., $ 5.00.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 26(1):101-102.
  

(1966). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 26(1):101-102

The Wild Analyst. By Carl M. Grossman, M.D. and Sylvia Grossman. New York: George Brazillier, 1965, 222 p., $ 5.00.

Review by:
Melvin Wiederlight, M.D.

In 1951, thirty years after its first publication, Dr. Michael Balint reviewed The Book of the IT in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He stated that this was perhaps the very first writing in medicine that seriously held the idea that illnesses which impress us as somatic or organic are caused by emotions and in fact, are un-understood or misinterpreted expressions of emotions. Now approximately thirty years after his death, Dr. Carl Grossman, a San Francisco analyst and his wife have written a biography of Georg Walther Groddeck (1866-1934), “The Wild Analyst,” author of The Book of the It. It is interesting that although he is now internationally acclaimed as one of the early pioneers of psychosomatic medicine, and that during his lifetime Sigmund Freud explicitly acknowledged Groddeck as the source of his concept of the “Id,” very little has been known about the man and his works. As Laurence Durrell writes in his introduction to The Book of the It, “it is perhaps largely his [Groddeck's] own fault.” He considered his first job, as that of healer; the writer, and teacher took second place. Over and above this, Groddeck also knew how quickly the disciple can convert the living word into the dead canon.

At an early age, Groddeck learned the ability to defy tradition, make his own decisions, and adapt treatment to suit the needs of the patient from his father, also a well-known physician, and Ernest Schweninger, Chancellor Bismarck's personal physician.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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