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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.

Panzer, D.E. (2008). Multiple Models in Clinical Practice: Bane or Blessing?. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 56(2):595-609.

(2008). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 56(2):595-609

Multiple Models in Clinical Practice: Bane or Blessing?

Dale E. Panzer

The use of multiple models in the clinical situation—a bane or a blessing? That was the question posed by Sydney Pulver, who chaired this panel, to set the stage for the audience. While acknowledging that this may be “too extreme a question,” Pulver underscored its importance, given that psychoanalysis is currently “in a theoretical state … characterized by pluralism.”

We have many different schools and many different ways of thinking about psychoanalysis. From the standpoint of the development and growth of psychoanalytic theory, is it good for us to have multiple models? Is it useful? Pulver raised these questions and then let the audience know we would not be dealing with them today. Instead the panel would look at multiple models from the clinical standpoint. That is, it would consider what stance the clinician should take and how the use of multiple models impacts the clinical work for good or ill.

Pulver and Glen Gabbard, the scientific program chair, assembled a panel of eminent clinicians to answer these therapeutic questions. Sander Abend, who identifies himself as an exponent of modern conflict theory, was selected to represent the position that one comprehensive theory remains optimal in the clinical setting. Ronald Britton, from England, who identifies himself as a post-Kleinian, was selected to represent his work with multiple models and perhaps to discuss how the pluralistic milieu in contemporary British psychoanalysis impacts his clinical work. Fred Pine acknowledges Freudian roots but does not identify himself with any school or theory. He was invited as a longstanding advocate of the clinical use of multiple models who has written extensively on the subject. Pulver said that Pine had hinted to him that he would say something that would be a variation on his previous views.

[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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