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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.

Jacobs, T.J. (1993). Discussion of Dr. Padouvas' Case. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 2(1):120-128.

(1993). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 2(1):120-128

Discussion of Dr. Padouvas' Case

Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D.

Dr. Padouvas' excellent case report of this brief analysis gives us much to think about. Many of us have had similar experiences working with adolescent patients. It is not at all rare that work with an adolescent is interrupted, so that, as Carl Adatto has pointed out, the analysis of an adolescent often takes place intermittently over a period of some years.

Often the interruption is initiated by the adolescent himself, who, falling in love, achieving symptomatic improvement, or because he is faced with having to confront issues that he perceives are too threatening, breaks off treatment. Here the situation was different. So far as we can tell, the interruption of the analysis was initiated by the parents. Clearly, as Dr. Padouvas so well described, the parents agreed to analysis very reluctantly. They were not in favor of it and in fact they really did not believe in it. They agreed, it seems, out of feelings of desperation, but they were never behind it. Both parents resented paying for it, a fact that was clearly demonstrated by the long delays in payment that occurred.

This case clearly reminds us that in many instances the adolescent is as dependent on his parents to sustain the treatment as is the child. Without the parents in our corner, there is a good chance that undermining of our efforts will occur and the youngster will be pulled out of treatment.

What then can be done in such a situation? It is easy, of course, to pull out the old retrospectoscope, look back, and say how things might have been handled differently. The fact is that these parents may have been so negative toward analysis, or have had so strong a need for the status quo to be maintained (with D's troubles playing an important and stabilizing role in the family dynamics), that no intervention might have availed to turn the tide in this situation.

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