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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.

Pine, F. (1983). The Development of Ego Apparatus and Drive—A Schematic View. Contemp. Psychoanal., 19:238-247.

(1983). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 19:238-247

The Development of Ego Apparatus and Drive—A Schematic View

Fred Pine, Ph.D.

NOT INFREQUENTLY IN RECENT YEARS, one hears psychoanalysts expressing an interest in cognition, perception, and learning, often in particular an interest in the body of work produced by Piaget or others with related interests in the development of cognitive processes. Whence this interest? Classically, psychoanalysis has made unique contributions to the study of the development and characteristics of drive, of affect, of conflict, and of fantasy. It has been in the fields of psychology and education, the one more theoretically and the other in more applied ways, where a central focus has always been on cognition, perception, and learning. And yet the two areas have come together with considerable mutual gain. It is the aim of this brief communication to outline, in schematic form, some of the bases and forms of this coming together. In particular, I shall try to illustrate the distinctive contributions that psychoanalysis can make to an understanding of development in the cognitive sphere, in so doing attempting to clarify aspects of psychoanalytic developmental theory itself.

There is no doubt that psychologists and educators have generated an enormous research literature on thinking, on learning, on memory, and on perception. This research is in part descriptive (answering the question: what are thought and learning like?) and in part developmental (how do they change over time?); it is in part theoretical (addressing issues, for example, of the essential characteristics of learning), and in part applied (addressing issues, for example, of how our understanding can help us in education).

[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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