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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.

Schachter, J. Johan, M. (1989). Evaluation of Outcome of Psychoanalytic Treatment: Should Followup by the Analyst be Part of the Post-Termination Phase of Analytic Treatment?. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:813-822.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:813-822

Evaluation of Outcome of Psychoanalytic Treatment: Should Followup by the Analyst be Part of the Post-Termination Phase of Analytic Treatment?

Joseph Schachter, M.D. and Morton Johan, M.D.

IN HIS INTRODUCTION TO THE PANEL, Schachter explained that his interest in the topic derived largely from a pilot study of outcome in which he had participated in Pittsburgh some years before. In his interviews with one of the two former patients, his impression of the gains the patient had made and those the patient had failed to make at the time of the followup was strikingly different from that of the treating analyst at the time of termination, five years before. This difference in assessment seemed due to the unique perspective provided by the passage of time, rather than to the fact that the evaluation was made by someone other than the treating analyst. It suggested to him that followup contact by the analyst would provide the treating analyst with a more valid picture of the results of his analytic work than was possible at the time of the termination. This would facilitate the analyst learning from his experience and would improve his ability to work with subsequent patients using the model of Freud in his discussion of the treatment of Dora. Schachter referred to a former panel on Reanalysis (this Journal, 33:187–200) which tended to confirm Freud's impressions in Analysis Terminable and Interminable, that all issues could not be accomplished in the first analysis because certain life events (i.e., pregnancy) had not brought them into the arena of the analytic consultation room. Schachter reviewed the sparse literature on post-termination followup, citing a 1950 report in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. In that paper, four analysts advocated post-termination followup.

[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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