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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.

Krasner, R.F. (1983). Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XVII, 1981: Fromm's Approach to Psychoanalytic Technique. Bernard Landis. Pp. 537-551.. Psychoanal Q., 52:653-653.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XVII, 1981: Fromm's Approach to Psychoanalytic Technique. Bernard Landis. Pp. 537-551.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:653-653

Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XVII, 1981: Fromm's Approach to Psychoanalytic Technique. Bernard Landis. Pp. 537-551.

Ronald F. Krasner

Although Fromm wrote little that was specifically about technique, Landis suggests that he insisted on a sound methodology and on the existence of a science of psychoanalysis. A special relationship, a "productive relatedness," is the cornerstone of the treatment. The analyst must experience what the patient experiences and even "become the patient" while at the same time remaining himself. The analyst's technique and philosophy are indivisible. Thus, in order to be a competent analyst one must be knowledgeable in both the natural and the social sciences. A number of practical issues are discussed. The establishment of an analytic atmosphere includes courtesy (not "sheer politeness"), honesty, and concentration. The couch is not used because it deprives the patient of the analyst's reactions and makes the patient feel more thwarted and helpless. Free association is seen as a potential reservoir of resistance. The analyst encourages patients to be utterly frank and can tell them to "cut out the nonsense!" when they are not. Shift from thinking to experiencing is highly valued, such that insight alone without immediate altered action is seen as a delay of responsibility. The transformation of character toward the "love of life" and away from the "attraction of death" is the ultimate goal of Fromm's psychoanalysis, and the ability to love, to be spontaneous, and to be free results from it. Finally, Landis points out that Fromm, more than any other psychoanalyst, believed that psychoanalytic theory must take into account the social, political, and economic forces in society and the family that create the pathological conditions of contemporary life.

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Article Citation

Krasner, R.F. (1983). Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XVII, 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 52:653-653

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