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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.

Rosen, V.H. (1974). The Nature of Verbal Interventions in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 3(1):189-209.

(1974). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 3(1):189-209

3 Clinical and Theoretical Issues

The Nature of Verbal Interventions in Psychoanalysis

Victor H. Rosen, M.D.

This paper was Victor Rosen's last effort in psychoanalytic writing before his death. The manuscript was given to me as a revised second draft, and in rather polished form characteristic of Rosen's clear and logically rational style. Because I did not wish to disrupt the flow of his ideas and the mark of its author I have made only the most minor editorial changes.

The paper is in many ways a modest legacy of its author's intellect, but taken in the context of his other writings it contains many of the recurrent themes and concerns of his efforts. The exposition of a question, the narrowing of the discursive field, the application of clinical vignettes, and the concern with integration of language theory with psychoanalysis are all hallmarks of Rosen's work.

Having pursued a path along with him in his later years, I can pinpoint the origin of some of the logical philosophical discussion in the later part of the paper for our readers, for they are new in his writing. They grew out of a discussion Rosen gave of a paper by Benjamin Rubinstein, “On the Inference and Confirmation of Clinical Interpretations,” given at the New York Psychoanalytic Society Meeting on May 28,1968, and pursued further at a joint meeting of Rubinstein's seminar on Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Science and the Psycholinguistic Study Group. In a large sense these inte-grative study groups of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute were the breeding ground for this integrative annual.

Of no less importance than Rosen's quest for Cartesian “clear and distinct ideas” was his “humane” view of clinical analysis. This paper is an exquisite melding of these two features of his work.

-Theodore Shapiro, M.D.

[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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