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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.

Offerman-Zuckerberg, J. (1998). Contact, Care, and Countertransference: Some Critical Incidents. Contemp. Psychoanal., 34(1):133-142.

(1998). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 34(1):133-142

Contact, Care, and Countertransference: Some Critical Incidents

Joan Offerman-Zuckerberg, Ph.D.

Analytic time passes more unconsciously than otherwise. Hours become days, days months, months years; work continues slowly; psychic growth is ongoing and has a rhythm of its own. Much like the physical inches a child gains, our patients' progress is often measured in yearly intervals. Embedded in this timelessness, in this setting uniquely characterized by a paradoxical fusion of illusion and reality, our patients become constant objects. The repetition, so much a part of working through, is at times tedious, and can dull our senses. We become comfortable, perhaps too much so. Comfort may convert to boredom, a warning signal that a shift of attention, perception, understanding, affect, expression, may be required. For this article, I selected certain “critical incidents,” clinical events that seemed to change things for both the patient and me, a change that seems to be preceded by an empathic breach that alters relational dynamics once again—a change or discovery or rediscovery that injects new fuel. What seems to shift is the interpersonal field. Forces become reconstituted in a somewhat different pattern. A common dynamic denominator is some increase in, or some rediscovery of, contact and connection.

Conflict, an inherent part of any form of intimate relatedness, is typically an aspect of the countertransference (defined here as the therapist's “total responsiveness to the patient”). Tuning into it, working with it, creating something new out of it, these become reparative tools. Central to our understanding of countertransference is the paradoxical notion that real affects are being induced, shared—stimulated in an extraordinary setting, perhaps unlike any other in reality.

[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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