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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.

Heimann, P. (1962). The Curative Factors in Psycho-Analysis—Contributions to Discussion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:228-231.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:228-231

The Curative Factors in Psycho-Analysis—Contributions to Discussion

Paula Heimann


My interest in this Symposium that deals with matters close to our daily concern is heightened by the different approaches chosen by the three contributors. Thus Gitelson casts his net very widely. He integrates a variety of concepts used in the literature and presents a profile of his own theories. Nacht focuses on one fundamental factor, itself a composite of many elements, and Segal uses the one-way screen method by giving records from three analytic situations, connected by expositions of Melanie Klein's theories.

Nacht starts with a commendably brief definition of mental health as 'essentially the ability to live in a permanent state of harmony with oneself and with other people'. The precondition for this is a strong ego, and therefore the therapeutic endeavour must be directed towards the ego. Comparing the factors which interfere with the development of a strong ego at the time at which Freud developed his theories on technique with present conditions, Nacht concludes that in our present world it is the aggressive energies which represent the severe test on man, in contrast to the Victorian era which demanded repression of sexual impulses. He gives illustrative figures from the patient population coming to the Paris Institute for analysis; only a small percentage is supplied by obsessional and phobic neuroses. I believe that other psycho-analytic clinics too experience the difficulty of finding the, as they are sometimes called, normal neuroses for their candidates.

[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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