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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.

Kernberg, O.F. (1974). Further Contributions to the Treatment of Narcissistic Personalities. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:215-240.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:215-240

Further Contributions to the Treatment of Narcissistic Personalities Related Papers

Otto F. Kernberg

This paper continues my earlier studies of the diagnosis and psychoanalytic treatment of a specific constellation of character pathology, that of the narcissistic personality (Kernberg, 1967), (1970a), (1971a). In recent years, a consensus has been gradually developing regarding the definition of this pathological character structure and the indication of psychoanalysis as the treatment of choice (Jacobson, 1964); (P. Kernberg, 1971); (Kohut, 1966), (1968), (1971); (Rosenfeld, 1964); (Tartakoff, 1966); (E. Ticho, 1970); (van der Waals, 1965). However, despite the evolving agreement about the descriptive, clinical characteristics of this constellation, divergent views have developed regarding the underlying metapsychological assumptions and the optimal technical approach within a psychoanalytic modality of treatment. In particular, Kohut's approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders (1971) is very different from the approach I outlined in an earlier paper (Kernberg, 1970a), which is more closely related to the views of Abraham (1919), Jacobson (1964), Riviere (1936), Rosenfeld (1964), Tartakoff (1966) and van der Waals (1965). Therefore, in this paper I will focus particularly on those aspects of my approach to the understanding and treatment of narcissistic personalities which highlight agreements and disagreements with Kohut's approach.


With respect to clinical characteristics, there is agreement between Kohut's view and that of the other authors whom I have mentioned as representing an alternative view and myself.

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