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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.

Reeves, C. (2015). Reappraising Winnicott's The Piggle: A Critical Commentary: Part I: Introduction and the Treatment. Brit. J. Psychother., 31(2):156-190.

(2015). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(2):156-190

Reappraising Winnicott's The Piggle: A Critical Commentary: Part I: Introduction and the Treatment

Christopher Reeves

The Piggle is one of only two substantial psychoanalytic case histories to be published under Winnicott's name. Winnicott felt that the case and the associated notes and reflections provided important material for discussion. Claire Winnicott - his wife and literary executor - wanted to bring these to an audience, and did so by overseeing the posthumous publication of the work in 1977. The nature and purpose of the work's message is explored in an extended paper published in two parts, in this and the next issue of the Journal. In Part I, published here, the author discusses the work in its historical context alongside other contemporary child analyses (notably Klein's Narrative of a Child Analysis and McDougall's Dialogue with Sammy) and its ambivalent reception by its contemporary audience. The author identifies theoretical issues raised by the material; the use of commotional and conjunctional interpretations; the use of time, and analysis on demand; the place of play in therapy and the role of the parents. He reviews the dialogue between analyst and child as set out in the text, identifying emerging themes. He attempts to understand what the child, Gabrielle, was trying to communicate. He then reviews Winnicott's interpretation of those sessions, identifying areas in which the interpretations may be at odds with what the child was experiencing. At the end the author encourages the reader to re-read Winnicott's original text before reading the discussion and critical evaluation that forms the basis of the second part of the paper, ‘Discussion and Critique’.

[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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