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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.

Oremland, J.D. (1973). A Specific Dream During the Termination Phase of Successful Psychoanalyses. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 21:285-302.

(1973). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 21:285-302

A Specific Dream During the Termination Phase of Successful Psychoanalyses

Jerome D. Oremland, M.D.


Because of the unusual plasticity of dreams—their use of visual imagery and condensation—they often represent with striking clarity

the two main aspects of the analysis: the major symptom complex and the transference. In three cases considered successfully analyzed, a dream occurred during the termination process with the following specific characteristics: (1) it occurred in relationship to a termination event; (2) it portrayed the presenting or a major symptom with significant modification; and (3) it represented the analyst undisguised and in intimate relationship with the symptom. It is suggested that in these cases the dream demonstrates to varying degrees the alteration which the analysis has brought about in both the symptom and the transference. The symptom is changed, and the analyst's being represented in a realistic, role-appropriate manner indicates the degree to which the transference distortions have been analyzed and resolved. A fourth case, also with a termination dream, but an analysis considered incomplete, is presented for contrast.

The termination phase as a test of the analysis is discussed. It is proposed that a dream with the characteristics described, when present, is important additional evidence that an analytic process was initiated, that the symptom structure has been modified, that there has been significant resolution of the transference, and that a completing process is underway.

[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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