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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.

Alfonso, C.A. Olarte, S.W. (2011). Contemporary Practice Patterns of Dynamic Psychiatrists—Survey Results. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 39(1):7-26.

(2011). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 39(1):7-26

Contemporary Practice Patterns of Dynamic Psychiatrists—Survey Results

César A. Alfonso, M.D. and Silvia W. Olarte, M.D.

The authors examine the practice characteristics of dynamic psychiatrists, including the combined use of medication and psychotherapy, and adherence by self-report to psychodynamic, supportive, and cognitive behavioral therapy theoretical principles and techniques. Method: Survey of 555 members of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry conducted in 2009. Results: 24.1% response rate; 75% of respondents were between 61 and 80 years old, 61% had over 30 years of experience; 89% have a private practice but work on an average of 1.6 settings; 39% teach. Most respondents treat patients with complex comorbidities; 92.6% prescribe psychotropic medication. The preferred mode of practice is individual psychotherapy and the preferred frequency once a week; 94.5% of sessions are 45-60 minutes. Using Plakun's Y-model framework, psychoanalysts and dynamic psychiatrist subgroups equally support all core psychotherapy and psychodynamic features, with lesser emphasis but substantial endorsement of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy features. Conclusions: Dynamic psychiatrists are committed to see most patients once a week for 45-60 minute sessions and use a variety of conceptual frameworks to guide their treatment plans. They endorse supportive and psychodynamic practice elements more than cognitive-behavioral principles.

[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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