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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.

(2012). The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease: The Hidden Epidemic Edited by Ruth Lanius Eric Vermetten Clare Pain Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010, 315 pages, ISBN: 9780521880268. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 6(2):112-121.

(2012). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 6(2):112-121

The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease: The Hidden Epidemic Edited by Ruth Lanius Eric Vermetten Clare Pain Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010, 315 pages, ISBN: 9780521880268 Related Papers

Review three by Dr Adrian Salter, GP and Specialist in Public Health

“… in the medicine of the future the interdependence of mind and body will be more fully recognised, and that the influence of the one over the other may be exerted in a manner which is not now thought possible.”

Sir William Osler, 1893 (Hindara & Hisae, 2001)

The editors of this “sourcebook”, that hopes to provide a “comprehensive, evidence-based review summarising and synthesising the recent academic and clinical research of prominent scientists, researchers and theorists in the field of psychological trauma”, appear to share John Bowlby's strong reforming drive: he saw psychotherapy as preventative medicine that would help to change not just individuals but also society (Holmes, 1993).

It proposes a new diagnostic strategy involving consideration of the very earliest experiences, not only for the field of psychiatry and mental health, but also medicine, and society in general. As a consequence the authors argue, and I would agree, that there is an urgent need to reconsider the structure of medical, public health, and social services.

The book aims to capture and integrate the study and research of early life trauma with a blend of clinical observation and sophisticated technical investigation. It is organised in three sections;

ο    context of childhood trauma

ο    neurobiology of childhood trauma

ο    clinical aspects

The first section explores the epidemiological and historical themes, and then outlines a trajectory for the subsequent development of mental and physical health effects of childhood trauma.

[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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