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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.

Dinwiddie, E.W. (1925). Law And Freedom In The School. by George Albert Coe. University of Chicago Press, 1924. Pp. 133. Price $1.75. Postage extra.. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(1):121-122.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(1):121-122

Book Reviews

Law And Freedom In The School. by George Albert Coe. University of Chicago Press, 1924. Pp. 133. Price $1.75. Postage extra.

Review by:
E. W. Dinwiddie

The writer, who is now of Teachers College, Columbia University, and was formerly with the Glendora Foothills School, Glendora, Cal., has taken as his topic “law as a factor in school projects—natural law, the ‘cans and cannots’; common and statute law, the ‘musts and must nots’; and moral law, the ‘oughts and ought nots.’”

Professor Coe is a convinced advocate of the project method in education. He makes it clear that his selection of law as the subject matter of his book in no sense implies desire to discourage free purposeful activity on the part of pupils.

He discusses in the nine chapters of the essay: the dependence of projects upon law, how natural law both opens and closes doors, the project as the method of nature, natural law and teacher law in the project, the will of the pupil and the will of society, how the young assimilate moral law, moral law and moral creativity in the school, the school and economic law, and the healthy school in a sick society.

The author uses the term, “law,” in a broad sense. He says: “We do not stretch the proprieties of language when we speak of the ideal as law, for persistent idealizing marks the striving of humanity as truly as does legislation.” He urges teachers to recognize that pupils do form ideals whether with or without the teacher's help, and that ideals represent an actual or possible inner law in projects.

He gives six phases of law as factors in the projects of the young: natural laws, teacher laws, economic laws, common and statute law, moral law and ideals as laws.

[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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