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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.

(1966). Annual Meetings—May, 1966. Bul. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:815-832.

(1966). Bulletin of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:815-832

Annual Meetings—May, 1966

The 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association was held at the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 6-9, 1966. An abstract of the Minutes of the Business Meeting of Members, including the reports of the Secretary of the Executive Council and of the Secretary of the Board on Professional Standards, as well as all other transactions are published in this issue of the Bulletin. Members who desire to obtain copies of the official Minutes of any of these bodies may do so by communicating with the Executive Secretary, Mrs. Helen Fischer, One East 57 Street, New York, New York 10022.

Business Meeting of Members

The Business Meeting of Members was held at the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel, Atlantic City on Sunday, May 8, 1966 with Dr. Victor H. Rosen, the outgoing President, and Dr. Leo Rangell, the incoming President, presiding. Dr. Herbert F. Waldhorn was Secretary.

Dr. Rosen, prior to officially turning the gavel over to Dr. Rangell, presented to the Members some impressions of his past year as the President of the Association. Dr. Rosen touched on many aspects of present Association activities in his discussion and thanked the members of the Executive Committee, Mrs. Fischer and the staff of the Central Office for the cooperation he had received during his term. Dr. Rosen introduced Dr. Rangell as the new President of the Association. After accepting the gavel, Dr. Rangell presented Dr. Rosen with the A. A. Brill Past-President's Medal and introduced Dr. Charles Brenner, the new President-Elect. Dr. Rangell also introduced Dr. Victor Calef as the new Councilor-at-Large.


Dr. Brian Bird, Secretary of the Board of Professional Standars, gave his report to the Meeting of Members.

[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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