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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.

Schachter, J. Pfäfflin, F. Gorman, B. Kächele, H. (2014). A Questionnaire/Interview Comparison of Satisfaction with Training Analysis to Satisfaction with Analysis by a Nontraining Analyst: Implications for Training Analysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 31(3):357-374.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31(3):357-374

A Questionnaire/Interview Comparison of Satisfaction with Training Analysis to Satisfaction with Analysis by a Nontraining Analyst: Implications for Training Analysis

Joseph Schachter, M.D., Friedemann Pfäfflin, M.D., Bernard Gorman, Ph.D. and Horst Kächele, M.D.

The training analysis concept assumes that training analysts (TAs) can more effectively treat analyst-patients than non-TAs can. This study tests this assumption empirically by comparing satisfaction with analytic treatment by a TA with that by a non-TA in the same analyst-patients. Extensive literature critical of training analysis led us to hypothesize that analysis of analyst-patients by TAs would actually be less satisfactory than personal analysis by a non-TA. The validity of the analyst's questionnaire ratings of satisfaction was supported by independent ratings

by 2 senior analysts of transcribed individual interviews of participants. It correlated significantly with participants' questionnaire ratings of satisfaction. Theoretically, treatment by TAs should be more satisfactory than treatment by non-TAs. This study, however, found no significant difference between satisfaction with analytic treatment by a TA compared with treatment by a non-TA. This same lack of difference in satisfaction had been reported in a previous unrelated clinical interview study. In addition, there was no difference between TAs and non-TAs in the proportion of analysts who reached a mutually agreed termination and no difference in treatment duration. Because no study has reported that treatment by a TA is more satisfactory than treatment by a non-TA, the burden of proof falls on those psychoanalytic organizations who utilize a TA conception to demonstrate that treatment by a TA is more satisfactory.

[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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