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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.

Rangell, L. (1956). Panel Reports—The Dream in the Practice of Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 4:122-137.

(1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 4:122-137

Panel Reports—The Dream in the Practice of Psychoanalysis

Leo Rangell, M.D.

This panel consisted of a number of relatively small presentations and a good deal of discussion of these, all of which added up at the end of the day to a sizable, composite whole.

The panel was opened by its Chairman, Sandor Lorand, with a brief initial presentation of "Possible Deviations in the Technique of Dream Interpretation." While it is not expected, nor is it likely, that we will learn anything new now regarding dream theory, there are many situations today which call for variations in the technique of interpreting dreams. This is due to the widening of psychoanalysis to include different types of neuroses than when Freud first formulated dream theory and technique, such as various character problems, borderline conditions, and the perversions. In this group, the resistances and defenses are frequently too strong to produce or to remember dreams. Among the deviations which may be required, Lorand mentions: (1) It is frequently necessary to analyze the manifest dream from our knowledge of other related material from the patient. While pointing out Freud's warning against the interpretation of dreams without associations from the patient, in some cases such interpretations become necessary and may in themselves start a stream of associations which can then yield worth-while material. (2) Regarding the question of the writing down of dreams, this procedure, too, in these borderline cases is sometimes necessary and helpful. The material thus obtained may yield clues which in themselves will help analyze this particular form of resistance. Freud himself, Lorand reminds us, wrote down his own dreams for later analysis.

Following

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