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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.

Brenner, I. (2010). The Relational Origins of Prejudice - A Convergence of Psychoanalytic and Social Cognitive Perspectives By Ron B. Aviram Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2009, 145 pp., $ 50.00. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 7(4):340-343.

(2010). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 7(4):340-343

The Relational Origins of Prejudice - A Convergence of Psychoanalytic and Social Cognitive Perspectives By Ron B. Aviram Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2009, 145 pp., $ 50.00

Ira Brenner, M.D.

Ron Aviram, PhD, a New York-based psychologist with affiliations at Columbia, Presbyterian Hospital and the William Alanson White Institute, has offered an integrated model of prejudice bridging the contributions from individual and group perspectives. The book, organized into seven chapters, starts with an introductory first chapter that provides a brief summary of the succeeding chapters and a statement of purpose: “The book introduces the compatibility between relational psychoanalysis and social cognitive psychology … [because] considerable overlap already exists between the two disciplines … [and because] prejudice is the outcome of developmental factors, intrapsychic process, interpersonal functioning and societal conditions” (p. 7). So, he begins the text with a sound premise and a comprehensive agenda.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the prevailing theories of prejudice over the last century, restating his position that a relational perspective brings together the psychoanalytic and social psychological viewpoints. Beginning with the historical context of Sigmund Freud's life being an Austrian Jew affected by World War I and the subsequent rise of National Socialism, Aviram cites Freud's 1935 autobiographical study and his seminal 1921 paper, Group Psychology in the Analysis of the Ego. In the latter paper, he notes the importance of the leader replacing the ego ideal of the group members as well as the concepts of narcissism within and the rivalry between groups.

[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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