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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.

Shapiro, T. (1973). Language Development in Young Schizophrenic Children: Direct Observation as a Constraint on Constructions in Analysis. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 2(1):175-187.

(1973). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 2(1):175-187

Language Development in Young Schizophrenic Children: Direct Observation as a Constraint on Constructions in Analysis

Theodore Shapiro, M.D.

Psychoanalytic treatment began as and remains a retrospective, reconstructive method of inquiry. Although always highly dependent on verbalization as the important datum for analysis, psychoanalysts early recognized that nonverbal behavior was also a carrier of meaning. With the discovery that the play of children roughly approximates free association, behavioral analysis revealed wish and defense and organized themes. However, this methodological advance has not enabled analysts to rescue the preverbal period from designation as a mental ice age. It can be approached or approximated only by inference from direct observations or retrospective reconstructions.

The schizophrenic child, with his sometimes minimal speech and his developmental lag in language organization, presents a problem for analysis which resembles the problem of the preverbal period. Only as the psychotic child develops language and begins to organize his behavior does interpretation become possible as in the case of the neurotic child. However, the interpretations and constructions used in treatment and in theory should be consonant with the child's cognitive and integrative structures at the stage of development to which they refer (Hartmann, 1948; Frankl, 1961). Ignorance of this caution has encumbered psychoanalysis with the historical errors of Rank's overinterpretation of the psychic responses to birth trauma and Melanie Klein's notions about what infants think.

Although it would have pleased Freud greatly to find that his reconstructions of early childhood seduction indicated a universal environmental precursor to psychoneurosis, it is also a fact that verification of that idea would have precluded Freud's most interesting discovery of psychic reality.

[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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