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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.

Kris, E. (1956). On Some Vicissitudes of Insight in Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:445-455.

(1956). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37:445-455

On Some Vicissitudes of Insight in Psycho-Analysis

Ernst Kris, Ph.D.

The complexity of current psycho-analytic discourse on technique suggests that I state what I take for granted before I attempt to come to the small area of problems that I propose to survey in some detail.

Psycho-analysis offers the theory applied in many if not all psychotherapeutic techniques, and supplies a rationale even where its application is not intended. Some procedures central to these psychotherapeutic techniques play at best a peripheral role in psycho-analytic therapy. Their use tends to be part of the introductory or critical phases of treatment, and some of these procedures have come to be considered as parameters, which adjust technical precepts to specific situations or afflictions (33), (5). Even when parameters can be avoided, the interventions of the analyst through interpretation may be taken by the patient as clarifying opinions or reassuring hints; and the nature of the treatment situation itself (e.g. when the analyst does not react to criticism and aggression) may gain the impact of a corrective experience. The 'valence' of these experiences is clearly established by the fact that sooner or later in the course of treatment most of the patient's reactions to them will have to be viewed in their relation to defence and resistance. With the term resistance and the temporal dimension, a 'sooner' or a 'later', we refer to a distinct property of psycho-analytic therapy: its character as a process, with a notion, however loosely defined, of progressive development over time in a definite direction.

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