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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.

K├Ârner, J. (2002). The Didactics of Psychoanalytic Education. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(6):1395-1405.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(6):1395-1405

The Didactics of Psychoanalytic Education

Jürgen Körner

The author first discusses general didactic considerations regarding psychoanalytic education and the teacher–pupil relationship. He then demonstrates that psychoanalytic education is greatly influenced by the ideal of a liberal education, of which in Germany there is a strong tradition under the name ‘Bildung’. The main characteristics of ‘Bildung’—as opposed to professional training—are that the objectives remain undefined and there is no attempt to achieve defined and operationalisable professional qualifications. The relationship between teacher and pupil is characterised by authority and trust. A psychoanalytic education by means of a ‘liberal education’ is based upon the assumption that the student should be motivated and supported in achieving competence through a passionate study of the world of psychic reality. Today, however, psychoanalytic education must be seen within a contemporary context that forces us to abandon the ideals of a liberal education, to operationalise the subjects studied and to control the education itself with regard to efficiency and results. These modern demands are the result of a professionalisation which has reached all social professions and from which psychoanalysis also cannot escape. Because of this, it is especially important to reflect on our educational methods and objectives. The author makes several suggestions on this subject. It is to be hoped that psychoanalysis will find its own way, without, on the one hand, losing sight of the special nature of psychoanalytic competence through an over-hasty adaptation to the process of professionalisation and, on the other hand, without reverting to unquestioned and outdated ideas on education.

[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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