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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.

Mizen, R. (2014). Journal Reviews: Knox, J. & Lepper, G. 2013. ‘Intersubjectivity in therapeutic interaction: a pragmatic analysis’. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 28. 1, 33-51.. J. Anal. Psychol., 59(4):594-596.

(2014). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 59(4):594-596


Journal Reviews: Knox, J. & Lepper, G. 2013. ‘Intersubjectivity in therapeutic interaction: a pragmatic analysis’. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 28. 1, 33-51.

Review by:
Richard Mizen

Analysts are very fond of ‘big’ theories, broad frameworks within which they can organise and account for their clinical experience. The shortcomings and hazards of this kind of approach are well known not least in the ways that expectations can lead to distortions of what is actually observed. Nonetheless the attractions remain compelling. In part this may be defensive, a consequence of analysts' exposure to uncertainty and doubt about the meaning and implications of patients' communications. This may be coupled with the reserve and isolation that an analytic attitude necessitates, which may tempt analysts to seek to contain and orientate themselves, by recourse to the kinds of structures that theory can appear to offer.

Alongside of this there has been an historic suspicion of extra-analytic and especially empirical research conducted outside of clinical sessions, which is often represented as in some way none, or even anti, analytic. There is something disingenuous about this, because analysis borrows freely, and it must be said often selectively, from research in other disciplines, where it is felt to support ‘analytic’ ideas. This essentially ambivalent approach often deters analysts from engaging in research that is capable of providing reliable ways of cross-referencing and triangulating the essentially subjectively experienced material which is the stuff of analysts' field of inquiry. Having said this, the need for this kind of approach is implicitly recognised, for example in need for clinical supervision and elsewhere, with tools such as Bion's ‘Grid’, which he explicitly states is only for use outside of sessions and for reviewing their content in a systematic fashion.

In Knox and Lepper's paper (both analysts who trained at the Society of Analytical Psychology) they describe their own extra-analytic researches into therapist/patient interactions, before going on to describe the ways in which this may have implications for how we think about, understand and work clinically. They focus in particular on ‘turn-taking’; the ways in which there is a back and forth interaction between therapist and patient which consists of mostly unconscious, subtle negotiations regarding which direction, amongst many, the relationship between the therapeutic couple may take.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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