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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.

Downey, J.I. (2020). Editorial: Contributions to Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychiatry by Richard C. Friedman (1941-2020). Psychodyn. Psych., 48(3):223-233.

(2020). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 48(3):223-233

Editorial: Contributions to Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychiatry by Richard C. Friedman (1941-2020)

Jennifer I. Downey, M.D.

As Interim Editor of Psychodynamic Psychiatry, I have the honor to comment on Richard C. Friedman's extraordinary career. At the time of his death in late March of this year, Richard C. Friedman (RCF) had been Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis for eight years. During that time, the journal was renamed Psychodynamic Psychiatry and became the first English-language journal in the world about psychodynamic psychiatry. At the time of his death, Dr. Friedman was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. He was also on the faculty of the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and Research Professor at the Derner School of Adelphi University.

RCF was a curious, vigorously intellectual man, filled with ideas for new projects, new questions to answer in psychiatry, always on the lookout for new work that would be of importance to the Psychodynamic Psychiatry community. He was a gifted clinician, whose clinical work is vividly described by a patient with whom he worked for 25 years in a recent New Yorker article, “Obituary for the Analyst: Richard C. Friedman and the Quelling of My Depression(Solomon, 2020).

RCF was also a charismatic teacher who could explain psychodynamic concepts with clarity and simplicity. I hope that at the panel on RCF's work that the Academy will hold at a future annual meeting, we'll have a chance to discuss his teaching about human sexual behavior and pathology, which was extraordinary.

During his professional career, RCF published two authored books, six edited books, and over 117 papers and chapters. The exact number is unknown since he had not revised his CV for a couple of years.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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