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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.

Zellner, M. (2014). International Neuropsychoanalysis Society: Congress Research Presentations: The 15th International Neuropsychoanalysis Congress, New York City, July 24–27, 2014: “Current Neuropsychoanalytic Research”. Neuropsychoanalysis, 16(2):159-183.

(2014). Neuropsychoanalysis, 16(2):159-183


International Neuropsychoanalysis Society: Congress Research Presentations: The 15th International Neuropsychoanalysis Congress, New York City, July 24–27, 2014: “Current Neuropsychoanalytic Research”

Maggie Zellner

With our 15th annual congress, we witnessed the full flowering of neuropsychoanalytic research. It began at the 2002 congress in Stockholm, with a postcongress research day that featured just eight presentations. Following that meeting, the Research Day became a regular feature, where colleagues from around the world presented clinical work with patients; explorations of the brain mechanisms of psychodynamic processes, with fMRI and other methods; pharmacological studies of affective processes in humans and other animals; and more. Many of us felt that the Research Day was one of the most exciting parts of our meetings, where the languages of both neuroscience and psychoanalysis could be spoken in the same talk.

In the past several years, neuropsychoanalytic research has featured ever more prominently, with research sessions being integrated into the congress proper since our congress in Seattle in 2010; our last separate postcongress Research Day was in Paris in 2009. In this most recent congress, neuropsychoanalytic research finally took center stage, with 44 talks given by colleagues from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America making up the main body of the conference. The breadth of topics, all of relevance to psychoanalytic models of the mind and to psychodynamic treatment, can be glimpsed by pursuing the abstracts below. Stay tuned for future publications in these pages and elsewhere from these productive and creative researchers and clinicians, who are thinking carefully about the intersection of the subjective and objective, taking on the challenges of operationalizing complex psychoanalytic concepts, and advancing our work on all fronts.

[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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