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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.

Eisold, K. (2005). Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy: A long and troubled relationship. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(4):1175-1195.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(4):1175-1195

Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy: A long and troubled relationship

Kenneth Eisold

The extended, inconclusive debate over distinguishing psychoanalysis and psychotherapy has been muddied by two underlying issues. The scientific identity that psychoanalysis claimed, leading it to affirm that it was more than a treatment modality, was in conflict with the actual therapeutic mission it assumed. Psychoanalysis was further hampered in those discussion by its internal conflicts over doctrinal purity; deviations for psychotherapeutic ends were vulnerable to the charge of dissidence. More recently, the debate has been clouded by the fact that newer candidates, by and large, can anticipate careers primarily as psychotherapists, driving a wedge between generations within institutes. The course of the debate and the problems encountered in it are affected by the formal relations between the psychoanalytic establishment and the health-care industry, including government agencies. In the long run, it appears to make little difference whether psychoanalysis is officially recognized as a mental-health treatment, as in Germany, or attempts to maintain its independence, as in the UK. Finally, as the debate appears to be winding down, the fate of dynamic psychotherapy is also in the balance. If in the past psychoanalysis seemed at risk of losing its specific identity, today dynamic psychotherapy is in danger as well.

[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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