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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.

Quinodoz, D. Aubry, C. Bonard, O. Déjussel, G. Reith, B. (2006). Being a Psychoanalyst: An Everyday Audacity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 87(2):329-347.
   

(2006). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 87(2):329-347

Theoretical and Clinical Papers

Being a Psychoanalyst: An Everyday Audacity Language Translation

Danielle Quinodoz , Candy Aubry, Olivier Bonard, Geneviève Déjussel and Bernard Reith

This paper is the work of five psychoanalysts who came together as a group in order to reflect on their work as analysts. How are we analysts to identify the unconscious resistances that may sometimes hold us back from offering psychoanalysis to some patients? Do these resistances sometimes hamper the inner freedom that we require in order to maintain a psychoanalytic focus once that process is under way? How do we manage from time to time to overcome these resistances or, better, make use of them in order to develop our understanding of the unconscious dynamics that create the link between analyst and patient? The authors discuss these issues with particular reference to clinical situations taken from classic psychoanalytic treatment cases during which the analyst had to find within him-or herself the audacity to be a psychoanalyst. Each clinical situation is different: preliminary interviews, in the course of the actual treatment, issues that emerge in the training of candidates. One of the significant features of this group lies in the fact that the participants are at different stages in their development as psychoanalysts (student, associate member, full member, training analyst). This means that their experiences complement one another and encourage a discussion of issues such as how psychoanalysis can be passed on, and the relationship between supervisor and supervisee.

[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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