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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.

(1950). Procedure for the Establishment of Psychoanalytic Training Facilities — Amended. Bul. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 6C(3):33-34.

(1950). Bulletin of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6C(3):33-34

Procedure for the Establishment of Psychoanalytic Training Facilities — Amended

In Volume 5, Number 3 of the Bulletin, September, 1949, there appeared the official procedure for the establishment of Psychoanalytic Training Facilities. At the annual meeting held in Detroit in April, 1950, Dr. Edward Bibring, Chairman of the Committee on Institutes, presented amendments to these regulations which follow:

“We have received a number of letters of endorsement with reference to applications for official recognition of newly organized institutes. Most of the endorsing letters do not live up to our expectation, since they represent more or less routine letters which are of no help to the task of the Committee on Institutes or the important function of the Board on Professional Standards. In order to avoid similar situations in the future, the Committee on Institutes, therefore, suggests the following amendments to the regulations for the establishment of psychoanalytic training institutes, as accepted at the annual meeting in Montreal in May, 1949 and as published in the Bulletin, Volume 5, No. 3, September, 1949, pages 1-3.

Amendment 1—To the paragraph under the heading “A. Institutes” the following sentence should be added; “Such letters of endorsement should be based on an intimate familiarity with the faculty, curriculum, and principles of training (including the basic philosophy) of the applying institute by the endorsing institute and discussed and accepted by a majority vote of the Educational Committee or Faculty Committee of the endorsing institute. The results of the investigation and the acceptance by the Educational Committee or Faculty Committee should be specifically mentioned in the letter of endorsement. It should also be stated that the endorsing institute assumes full responsibility for the endorsement.”

Amendment II—To the paragraph under the heading “B. Training Centers” the following sentence should be added; “Such letters of endorsement have to be based on the intimate familiarity with the qualifications of the staff members of the training center as well as with the teaching and training activities including the basic philosophy.

[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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