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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.

Curtis, H. (2014). The Development of A Psychotic Countertransference in Work with Two Severely Disturbed Patients. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(2):197-211.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(2):197-211

The Development of A Psychotic Countertransference in Work with Two Severely Disturbed Patients

Hannah Curtis

The paper describes and discusses some aspects of the countertransference in relation to two patients whose state of mind could be described as psychotic during treatment. The clinical work took place in the context of a private psychotherapy practice, but some aspects of the countertransference became evident in relation to external, but related figures connected with the treatment. It was not until the treatment with both patients had ended, and the author had done a considerable amount of work on her own processes, that she was able to acknowledge, think about, and eventually write about, the ways in which the two patients had impacted upon her own psyche. In order to achieve this aim of understanding, the author undertook a research degree at MA level as the frame in which to study psychotic processes in more depth, along with studying the transference and the countertransference. As she worked upon her degree thesis she became more aware of, and less embarrassed about, the countertransferential processes that taken place. The paper makes particular use of Stephen Purcell's contributions to identifying the countertransference and Harold Searles's work with psychotic patients.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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