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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.

Deutsch, F. (1927). Gynäkologische Psychotherapie: By W. Liepmann. (Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1925.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:286-287.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:286-287

Gynäkologische Psychotherapie: By W. Liepmann. (Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1925.)

Review by:
Felix Deutsch

A book in which the writer would like to do justice to psycho-analysis. The chapter on the progress of psycho-therapeutic methods in gynæcology, which in a book of 205 pages is dealt with in fifteen pages, includes a short verbatim extract from Freud's article in the Handwörterbuch der Sexualwissenschaft on the place of psycho-analysis in medical practice. The author draws attention to the importance of psycho-analysis, and advises his readers to have themselves analysed if they are intending to take up gynæcological psycho-therapy as genuine analysts. He believes, however, since he adheres to Kronfeld, that the fundamental ideas of the psycho-analytical doctrine can be utilized by 'undogmatic' physicians, i.e. by gynæcologists. Among these he understands a method of treatment which takes the form of an analysis and which he establishes on the patient's 'affective tie' to the physician. 'If this affective tie does not occur, then the analytical result proves ineffectual, and the effect of numberless sittings continued for years is at once void.' Apart from such misunderstandings, the attitude of the author to psycho-analysis is, in other respects, by far the most progressive to be found in any clinical treatise. This is notably the case in the chapter on the origin of gynæcological diseases like fluor, vaginismus, frigidity, menstrual disturbances, where he emphasizes the importance of the mind in organic and functional diseases.

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