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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.

Copley, B. (1983). Work with a Family as a Single Therapist with Special Reference to Transference Manifestations. J. Child Psychother., 9(2):103-118.

(1983). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 9(2):103-118

Work with a Family as a Single Therapist with Special Reference to Transference Manifestations

Beta Copley

I propose to describe some work I did with a family as a single therapist with a view to thinking about working in this way, particularly in relation to transference manifestations. It has of course been necessary to make some changes for reasons of confidentiality so as to make the family unrecognizable to anyone but themselves.

Referral, Exploration, and Setting-up of Therapy

A Mother wrote to the clinic saying that her son, Sean, had various problems at school; she thought his future was uncertain there and asked for advice on what kind of school might be best for him and whether treatment would be appropriate. She described him as an intelligent, creative and likeable fourteen-year-old, but with an unusual personality. The school supported the referral. An initial family exploration was thought to be a good starting point on the basis of the Mother's apparent involvement with, and estimate of her son, although more formal methods of assessment might be called for later if a change of school was indicated. At that time the composition of the family was not known and I wrote offering to meet Mother and son together, adding that it would be useful, in my opinion, if other members of the family living at home could come too. The decision for me to see them alone was taken because a co-therapist was not available at the time.

Three members duly came. They were an Irish family: Mother, a singer, and called by her first name, Mary, by the children; Sean, a tall, gangling, frail young-looking fourteen year old, and his older sister Dawn, seventeen, also tall and thin, made up the family living at home.

[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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