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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.

De Vito, E. Novick, J. Novick, K.K. (2000). Cultural Interferences with Listening to Adolescents. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 1(2):77-95.

(2000). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 1(2):77-95

Cultural Interferences with Listening to Adolescents Related Papers

Enrico De Vito, M.D., Jack Novick, Ph.D. and Kerry Kelly Novick

On the site of the biblical city of Ur, a four-thousand-year-old tablet was discovered with the following inscription carved on it: “Our civilization is doomed if the unheard-of actions of our younger generations are allowed to continue” (Lauer 1973, p. 176). Some historians, however, claim that adolescence is a modern invention (Aries 1965), a postindustrial phenomenon. There is controversy about this view but we can all agree that the scientific study of adolescence started in the twentieth century, with two salient works, G. Stanley Hall's (1904) monumental two volumes on adolescence (which he called the “Ephebic transformation”) and Sigmund Freud's “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” (1905), one section of which is devoted to the transformations of puberty.

The fundamental outline of the psychoanalytic view of adolescent development is contained in Freud's essay: the increase of sexual drive intensity at puberty breaks down latency defenses, including the incest barrier. The major task of adolescence is the relinquishment of infantile relationships and desires, the overthrow of parental authority, and the establishment of nonincestuous sexual relationships and a mature set of ideas, values, and morals. These momentous transformations take place initially and mainly in fantasies and often under the impetus of masturbation. During puberty, infantile sexual impulses become fore-pleasures under the dominance of the genital urge for heterosexual intercourse and procreation. Interferences with genital aims can lead to perversions.

This is the basic psychoanalytic model of adolescent development; the contributions of later writers add important details but do not alter much. Ernest Jones (1922) borrowed the theory of recapitulation of early phases from G. S. Hall (1904) to extend Freud's idea of the revival of oedipal wishes at puberty.

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