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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.

Freud, A. (1959). Clinical Studies in Psychoanalysis—Research Project of the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic. Psychoanal. St. Child, 14:122-131.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 14:122-131

Clinical Studies in Psychoanalysis—Research Project of the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic

Anna Freud

Place of Research

The following is a brief and preliminary account of some clinical investigations which are being carried out by a group of people who cooperate in work in the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic. This group consists of a number of analysts and child analysts, all of them members of the British Psycho-Analytic Society, supplemented by a number of analytic child therapists who have qualified from the four years' training course which is attached to the Clinic. The Clinic itself has functioned since 1951 and has grown steadily since then. At present, the number of people engaged in clinical work there stands somewhere between thirty and forty. Interest is directed on the one hand to the treatment of childhood disorders, on the other hand to the study of childhood development, normal and abnormal.

The Question of Planned Research in Analysis

Analysts have been reproached often for taking no interest in planned research and the methods serving it; of making their discoveries haphazardly and incidentally; of not choosing their material according to plan; of working as individuals and not in teams; and of allowing their case material to drift out of sight without follow-up.

[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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