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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.

Michels, R. (1997). Obituary: Henriette R. Klein (1901-1996). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:155-156.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:155-156

Obituary: Henriette R. Klein (1901-1996)

Robert Michels

Henriette R. Klein, one of the leaders of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and of the psychoanalytic profession in New York City, died at her Carnegie Hill Manhattan brownstone on 11 May, 1996 at the age of 94. Born in October 1901, her career exemplified the best of American psychiatry and psychoanalysis. She was a pioneer in the ascendancy of women to leadership roles in those professions, and an important model for the many people who followed her.

Klein was born in Evanston, Illinois and received her B.A. from the University of Chicago and her M.D. from the University of Maryland. She trained in psychiatry and child psychiatry at Columbia's New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins, and in psychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, graduating in 1940. She served on the faculties of the Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York, Emery University and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was a central figure at the Columbia University Psychoanalytic Center from 1949 until her death. She became the first woman president of the Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine, and of the New York District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association, as well as the first woman trustee of the American Psychiatric Association from New York.

Klein made important scientific contributions to the study of childhood schizophrenia, the psychology of pregnancy and the psychodynamics of paranoia.

[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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