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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.

Panksepp, J. (2001). The Long-Term Psychobiological Consequences of Infant Emotions: Prescriptions for the Twenty-First Century. Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(2):149-178.
    

(2001). Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(2):149-178

The Long-Term Psychobiological Consequences of Infant Emotions: Prescriptions for the Twenty-First Century

Jaak Panksepp

Some of the personality characteristics of infants emerge from the positive and negative interactions of their brains' emotional strengths with world events. Positive emotional systems appear to operate as attractors that capture cognitive spaces, leading to their broadening, cultivation, and development.

Negative emotions tend to constrain cognitive activities to more narrow and obsessive channels. One aim of healthy development is to generate harmonious, well-integrated layers of emotional and higher mental processes, as opposed to conflicts between emotional and cognitive experiences. To understand such processes scientifically, we need to conceptualize the deep nature of the emotional brain and the psychiatric difficulties that can emerge from underlying imbalances. Obviously, one has to view the infant as a coherent entity rather than a conglomeration of neurological parts—but a scientific understanding of how their fundamental brain emotional systems may operate (based on the detailed neurobehavioral study of other mammals), may provide new ways to conceptualize how different social environments may modify those paths. Herein, I will highlight areas of research we might cultivate to promote a deeper understanding of key neurodevelopmental issues. The basic premise is that with the emergence of habitual capacities to project their emotions into the world, infants gradually come to see their environments as fundamentally friendly places or uncaring and threatening ones. A great deal of this presumably emerges from brain systems that control sadness and joy. Those brain processes, along with developmental implications, are discussed in some detail.

[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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