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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.

Ehrenwald, J. (1969). Hippocrates’ Kairos and the Existential Shift. Am. J. Psychoanal., 29(1):89-93.

(1969). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 29(1):89-93

Hippocrates’ Kairos and the Existential Shift

Jan Ehrenwald

The concept of Kairos, as used by Kielholz1, Ellenberger2, and Kelman3, carries us “beyond the purview of psychoanalysis, Freudian or neo-Freudian, and indeed beyond the domain of the behavioral sciences and the scientific method itself. It may well be that part of its appeal derives from this very fact: from the broad cosmological vistas opened up by it; from its rich associations with both our classical Western heritage and with ancient wisdom of the east. It certainly raises a challenge to the materialistic position of our day—and it seems to do so at a “favorable moment” in history.

It is wholly consistent with this tradition that the concept of kairos is left ambiguous, ill-defined, albeit pregnant with meaning. It is described as a moment outside measurable time and space, pertaining to “ultimate spirituality”; as a privileged or peak experience, conducive to what Kelman has termed “communing.”4 It is viewed as a critical turn of events, transcending what is subsumed under the concepts of transference and counter-transference or the “encounter.” It is “one and all things,” as Kelman put it.

But even if kairos seems to transcend the sharply defined conceptual tools of western science, we must nevertheless try to go beyond its appealing metaphorical, semi-mythological content and elucidate the dynamic forces and interpersonal configurations which are instrumental in making it therapeutically effective.

[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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