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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.

Frank, R.L. (1939). New Horizons for the Family: By Una Bernard Sait. (The MacMillan Company, New York. Pp. 772. Price $7.00.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:203-204.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:203-204

New Horizons for the Family: By Una Bernard Sait. (The MacMillan Company, New York. Pp. 772. Price $7.00.)

Review by:
Richard L. Frank

The author's purpose in this book is to contribute to a philosophy of the family, to assist through education in the preparation for marriage and family life, and to be of value in the training of teachers and social workers. It is based on the philosophical principles of John Dewey.

History and anthropology, sociology and economics, biology and psychology are searched for information into the realities of family life and for techniques for providing desirable changes. The use of 'Cooperative experimental intelligence in social affairs' is held out as an imperative need. 'The cooperative family' is the goal to be achieved. In this 'Manliness with its emphasis on protective strength, reliability and courage is the correlative of womanliness from which all traces of immature dependence has gone, but where the emphasis is still upon the qualities conducive to the care of life'.

Psycho-analysis comes in for considerable explicit discussion and is relied on implicitly to a far greater extent.

Dr. Sait quotes Dewey, 'Some psychoanalysts treat sex in a way which flagrantly exhibits both the consequences of artificial simplification and transformation of social results into psychic causes'. She criticizes further, 'In particular there has been neglect on the part of Freud and some of his followers of the cultural determination of sexual behavior'.

Malinowski, whose functional view of culture the author adopts, is noted 'to have shown the Oedipus complex to be a by-product, not a creative principle, but a maladjustment'.

Many of the points that Dr. Sait raises are the subjects of current re-examination and re-evaluation among psycho-analysts. In her advocacy of certain therapeutic procedures she shews, however, her failure to differentiate between psycho-analytical hypothesis and clinical fact. Thus she discusses the treatment of problems of marital maladjustment. 'Social psychology supplements the somewhat one-sided view of many psycho-analysts by stressing behavior as the product of social interaction'.

[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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