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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.

Dunn, P.B. (2007). The Clinical Implications of an Integrative Theory: Commentary on Fonagy and Target. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 55(2):479-484.
    

(2007). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 55(2):479-484

The Clinical Implications of an Integrative Theory: Commentary on Fonagy and Target

Peter B. Dunn

While psychoanalysis had been evolving (or devolving) into a psychology with multiple competing models of the mind, there has been a counterbalancing movement toward theoretical integration. “The Rooting of the Mind in the Body: New Links between Attachment Theory and Psychoanalytic Thought” by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target is a contribution to this movement. They carefully delineate a theory to provide attachment theory and psychoanalysis a common theoretical base consistent with contemporary neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Such a theory would, in Fonagy and Target's view, further a mutually beneficial rapprochement. As Bertram Lewin once said, “There is nothing as practical as a good theory.” With this in mind, I will assess the utility of Fonagy and Target's integrative theory by considering its practical, or technical, implications.

Fonagy and Target's theory is highly abstract, detailed, and, to the extent that it draws from the linguistic theories of Ivan Fónagy on gestural language, it is bold and speculative. Their theory of the embedded mind posits that the mind is organized around a series of core concepts and representations, which arise from the child's sensorimotor, emotional, and enacted experiences with primary objects. As children develop the capacity to abstract, they infuse these concepts and representations with meaning by drawing metaphorical comparisons between abstractions (such as the concept of a mother) and sets of mental images drawn from experiences with the primary objects.

[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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