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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.

Davis, W. (2017). Editorial: Issues regarding Integration and Multiculturalism. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 11(2):vii-x.

(2017). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 11(2):vii-x

Editorial: Issues regarding Integration and Multiculturalism

Wayne Davis

On the 5th December 2016, Dame Louise Casey published a review commissioned by the then Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May. The premise of this review was to examine integration and cohesion within British society, and to look at the issues arising from recent patterns of migration and settlement in the UK. It provided an interesting backdrop to the “Brexit” vote in June earlier in the year, something noted in the review. Dame Casey acknowledged the difficulty in the task she undertook, particularly concerning certain minority groups. She felt that these issues needed to be faced head on to challenge the rhetoric of far-right nationalists and Islamic extremists, both of whom preyed on the divisions that exist within British society and the “fraying fabric of our union” (Casey, 2016, p. 6).

The review presented analysis of existing research and anecdotal evidence from interviews of people from different communities. It showed that difficulties still exist for various migrant communities, in terms of socio-economic and educational opportunities, gender equality, and areas of settlement. As such, not much had changed since previous Government enquiries and reports on social cohesion, and race riots at the end and turn of the last century. What added to the mix was the analysis of the impact of European Union migration and non-secular ideology. The review's recommendations suggested increased investment in areas impacted by high migration. Integration can be improved by changing public policy in areas such as housing and education; placing a heavy emphasis on teaching English; and instilling British values within migrant communities.

There was a mixed reception to the review with some members of the British Muslim community being quite critical. They felt that the findings and analysis focused too heavily on their community.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2016 and more current articles see the publishers official website.]

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