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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.

Sandler, J. (1966). Clinical Essay Prize. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:446-446.
    

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:446-446

Clinical Essay Prize

Joseph Sandler

Members and Associate Members of the International Psycho-Analytical Association are reminded that competitors for the Clinical Essay Prize must send in their work to the Hon. Scientific Secretary of the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 63 New Cavendish Street, London, W.1, by 31 March of the year in which they wish to enter the competition.

The conditions governing the competition are the following:

A prize of £20 is offered.

Requirements for the Essay

The essay shall consist of a clinical record of a case treated by psycho-analysis. It should illustrate clearly the events and changes in the mental life of the patient and their relation to external environment. In awarding the prize, the Judges will pay attention to acuity of observation and the clarity with which the facts are stated. If the writer wishes to draw theoretical conclusions, he must bear in mind the necessity of making the evidence for such conclusions carry conviction.

It is recommended that the length of the essay should not exceed 20, 000 words.

The essay shall not have been published in any book, journal, or other form of publication and shall not have been read to or have formed the subject of discussion at any formally constituted meeting of psycho-analysts.

Date of Sending in Essays: Language: Format, etc.

Essays must be submitted on or before 31 March in any year. They must be in the English language, in typescript on quarto paper with ample left-hand margin. They must be in triplicate and be sent to the Hon.

[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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