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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.

Chessick, R.D. (1997). Dynamic Psychotherapy of the Borderline Patient: William Goldstein. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1996, x + 301 pp.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 14(3):441-449.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(3):441-449

Dynamic Psychotherapy of the Borderline Patient: William Goldstein. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1996, x + 301 pp.

Review by:
Richard D. Chessick, M.D., Ph.D.

Every author seems to have his or her own method for the treatment of borderline patients as well as differing diagnostic criteria for determining whether a patient is to be labeled as borderline Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM—IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) defines the essential feature of borderline personality disorder as a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, along with marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts. This pattern is observable in many kinds of DSM—IV personality disorders, and as a result the borderline personality diagnosis overlaps with many other types of DSM—IV disorders, providing a sort of Rorschach test for authors who wish to write about the subject. A substantial segment of psychotherapeutic practice is made up of difficult, usually female, patients who fall more or less under this DSM—IV rubric

There seems to be no end to the writing of books about borderline patients. Techniques range from those of Abend, Porder, and Willick (1983), who recommend a more or less standard psychoanalytic treatment without parameters, to the cognitive therapy methods of Young (1996) and the recently presented “dialectical behavior therapy” of Linehan (1993). Somewhere in between lie the techniques of Kernberg (1975; Kernberg, Seltzer, Koenigsberg, Carr, & Applebaum, 1989) and Masterson (1981), which are rather idiosyncratic and based on an extremely specific developmental theory, as well as pragmatic techniques such as my own (Chessick 1977, 1993a, 1996). Why, then, another book on the borderline patient?

The answer is that with such a plethora of theories, techniques, and suggestions regarding the borderline patient, the beginner is bound to be overwhelmed by conflicting information and ideas. Goldstein has made an effort in this book to present a primer outlining some of the basic approaches along with his own approach to treatment of borderline patients.

[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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