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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.

Gabbard, G.O. (1998). Introduction: Glen O. Gabbard. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(1):36-38.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(1):36-38

Introduction: Glen O. Gabbard

Glen O. Gabbard

The first word in the title of Joseph Lichtenberg's plenary address, “experience,” is intended to be understood in a highly personal way. He takes the reader on a guided tour through his three analyses, his excursions into infant research and attachment theory, and his work as a psychoanalytic clinician, all en route to his final destination, which is his current perspective on psychoanalytic theory and technique. His interest in Stern's concept of “lived experience” is tied inextricably to his own lived experience as patient, analyst, researcher, and theoretician.

An important segment in this personal odyssey was a shift from viewing psychoanalysis as a theory of structure to viewing it as a theory of structured motivation. In a major achievement in an impressive career, Lichtenberg developed a model of five motivational systems working in concert to define moment-to-moment lived experience. All five are conceived as evolving in a “self-other” framework, each developing only when specific responses by caregivers are provided.

From this intersubjective theoretical position, Lichtenberg moves into considerations of technique, where the influence of Heinz Kohut and other self psychologists is readily apparent. Among Lichtenberg's technical principles is the general advice to eschew defense interpretation. He insists that the analyst explore affects and mental contents only to the extent that the patient can actually experience them.

[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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