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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.

Freud, A. (1966). Interactions Between Nursery School and Child Guidance Clinic. J. Child Psychother., 1(4):40-44.

(1966). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 1(4):40-44

Interactions Between Nursery School and Child Guidance Clinic

Anna Freud

Links between the therapy of children and their education are few and far between in our times. For the student of the subject this makes it all the more important to look for information to the small number of organisations in the United States and England where the two types of work are found side by side. The benefit which they derive from each other under such conditions is not difficult to demonstrate. Nevertheless, before entering into an account of these practical advantages, it seems appropriate to go further afield and to give evidence of the thinking which underlies such ventures.

I The Disadvantages of Specialisation in the Children's Services

Adding educational to clinical work represents the attempt to right a wrong which is being done to the children's services by specialisation, i.e. by a method which has been taken over from the adult field and applied to them unchanged. In the case of adults, we find no fault with the idea that their needs are split into medical, psychological, spiritual, legal ones, etc., and that there are specialised professions offering specialised aid. Even here the fields may overlap, as they do where psychological or mental health problems enter into and complicate the legal ones, or in psychosomatic medicine where organic and mental aetiology is intermingled, or in cases where medical specialisation has gone too far and the independent function, or dysfunction, of an organ is overemphasised at the expense of its interaction with other organ systems.

[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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