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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.

WidlöCher, D.D. (1983). The Supervisee and the Supervisor: Interpretations and Interventions. Ann. Psychoanal., 11:91-98.

(1983). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 11:91-98

The Supervisee and the Supervisor: Interpretations and Interventions

Daniel D. WidlöCher, M.D.

The differences between what the supervisee says and how the supervisor speaks are, as a rule, obvious. The new analyst is expected to make interpretations to his patient and to help him experience the unconscious determinisms of his mental activity. In other respects, it is recognized that the supervisor does not make direct interpretations, that he does not have an immediately therapeutic role, and that the educational aims he follows are quite different from the therapeutic aims of a psychoanalysis.

But, from an empirical point of view, these issues raise several problems, difficulties which are related to the fact that the supervisor does not know exactly what the supervisee really says to the patient, and he is never absolutely sure of what he should say.

Let us first consider what the supervisee says. We can ask ourselves why is it so necessary to know what he really says? It is certainly not necessary to have a more exact knowledge of what happened during the sessions, since such exact knowledge would have more drawbacks than advantages. It would give us the delusion that we could master the psychoanalytical situation with the patient by means of the interposed candidate and thereby double for him.

Such a situation should be as harmful for the therapeutic action itself as it would be for the candidate's analytic development. His only choices would then be to yield to our own understanding of the psychoanalytical process, or to defend his own.


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