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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.

Shalev, O. Yemshalmi, H. (2009). Status of Sexuality in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy as Reported by Therapists. Psychoanal. Psychol., 26(4):343-361.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 26(4):343-361


Status of Sexuality in Contemporary Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy as Reported by Therapists

Ofra Shalev, M.A. and Hanoch Yemshalmi, Ph.D.

Contemporary psychoanalytic literature places less emphasis than its classical counterpart on sexuality in explaining human motivation. However, up until now no methodical research has been done on the status of sexuality in clinical work. We report on a qualitative interview study that examined the status of sexuality in psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy (n = 10). We studied the extent to which therapists used sexual factors to explain patient behavior: To what extent were sexual themes dominant in the treatment, what importance did therapists attach to them, and what factors affected their place in therapy? The data gathered from the investigation were related to theoretical thinking on the marginalization of sexuality in psychoanalytic theory and practice. On the basis of the investigation, we describe four factors that affect the status of sexual themes in therapy: the extent of the belief in the centrality of sexuality in human motivation, the level of expressiveness of therapy, the narrowing of the concept of sexuality and the separation between sexuality and intimacy, and the tendency to avoid sexual issues because of the discomfort their discussion causes to patient or therapist.

[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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