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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.

Horney, K. (1936). The Problem of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction. Psychoanal Q., 5:29-44.

(1936). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 5:29-44

The Problem of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction

Karen Horney

There are many reasons for an impairment of a patient's condition during analysis; their common denominator is the arousal of anxiety, with which either the patient or the analyst is unable to deal adequately.

What Freud has called the "negative therapeutic reaction" is not, indiscriminately, every deterioration of the patient's condition; but the fact that the patient may show an increase in symptoms, become discouraged, or wish to break off treatment immediately following an encouragement or a real elucidation of some problem, at a time, that is to say, when one might reasonably expect him to feel relief. In fact, the patient very often actually feels this relief distinctly, and then after a short while reacts as described. Freud considers this reaction indicative of a bad prognosis in the particular case, and, as it is a frequent occurrence, a serious barrier to therapeutic endeavors in general.

When Freud first published these observations many questions arose concerning the specific nature of such an impairment, among them, Are we so sure in our expectation of what should bring relief to the patient? I remember my own scepticism on the subject. But the more experience I gained, the more I came to admire the keenness and the importance of Freud's observation.

Since there is nothing to add to Freud's description of the phenomenon, let me cite an example. A lawyer with widespread, subtle, inhibitions in almost every life situation had not got on in life in proportion to his abilities. During the analysis the possibility arose of his getting a much better position. It took him quite a time even to perceive his opportunity.

[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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