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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.

Nacht, S. (1962). The Curative Factors in Psycho-Analysis—Contributions to Discussion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:233.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:233

The Curative Factors in Psycho-Analysis—Contributions to Discussion

S. Nacht

(vi) S. NACHT (Reply)

I believe I caused some astonishment when I tried to define what should be the analyst's inner attitude, which in my opinion conditions all the other curative factors. When people ask: 'What does Dr Nacht mean by "The analyst must bring love to his patient",' it is difficult to reply in plain and clear words. When we give interpretations to our patients, we are obliged to proceed via the conscious to reach the unconscious. And here we can do nothing but use ordinary language.

But we know well—or at least we ought to—that there is a difference between what we say when we only want to reach the patient's conscious and the language we use in order to reach the patient's unconscious. If I spoke about the deep inner attitude of the analyst, it is precisely because it has a great importance when he tries to come into contact with his patient's unconscious, and I should say that inner attitude should be impregnated with love for his patient. Of course not the same kind of love he has, for instance, for his brother, his wife, or his close friend. No, it is a kind of love in which he is not personally concerned, although it is a deep feeling. I suppose it is rather difficult to describe it in common language, although I had to try to do so. It is a kind of openness that one can understand only if he has already experienced it himself with his patients in the analytic relationship. That is why I am sorry not to be able to give any better answer to those who made objections about what I tried to describe as the deep inner attitude of the analyst.

[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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