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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.

Bing, J.F. (1981). The Annual of Psychoanalysis. VI, 1978: Self Representation and the Capacity for Self Care. Henry Krystal. Pp. 209-246.. Psychoanal Q., 50:453.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Annual of Psychoanalysis. VI, 1978: Self Representation and the Capacity for Self Care. Henry Krystal. Pp. 209-246.

(1981). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 50:453

The Annual of Psychoanalysis. VI, 1978: Self Representation and the Capacity for Self Care. Henry Krystal. Pp. 209-246.

James F. Bing

The author summarizes this rather complicated and somewhat repetitious paper fairly well when he states that drug dependent and psychosomatic patients suffer from: 1) a marked disturbance of affect development, and 2) and inability to exercise self-caring functions. Krystal traces these difficulties back to complicated situations during the early developmental period in which the defect is in the mothering process, or at least in the fantasies the developing individual has in respect to the care-taking object. The difficulties in treating such patients result primarily from the fact that they are unable to confront their own aggression without becoming either severely depressed or homicidal, particularly in reference to the therapist. But in a few selected instances, according to the author, intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy has been able to produce dramatic results, although it demands an enormous amount of patience, tolerance, and empathy on the part of the therapist. Perhaps one of the most stimulating thoughts expressed in this paper is that an individual can no more affect his autonomically controlled organs than one can influence one's organs that are affected by "hysterical paralysis." Such a concept has far-reaching implications.

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Article Citation

Bing, J.F. (1981). The Annual of Psychoanalysis. VI, 1978. Psychoanal. Q., 50:453

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