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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. Nagera, H. Freud, W.E. (1965). Metapsychological Assessment of the Adult Personality—The Adult Profile. Psychoanal. St. Child, 20:9-41.

(1965). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 20:9-41

Diagnostic Assessments (Profiles)

Metapsychological Assessment of the Adult Personality—The Adult Profile

Anna Freud, Humberto Nagera, M.D. and W. Ernest Freud, B.A.

The need for a Profile of adult patients has made itself felt in our clinical work for some time, especially for those cases where a child and one or the other parent are in treatment simultaneously.

Our original Profile schema was devised for neurotic child patients in order to facilitate the organization of the material available about them under psychoanalytically meaningful headings (before, during, or after therapy). When the Profile was subsequently applied beyond the scope of the neurosis, a number of sections had to be amplified to embrace all the details relevant to the individual's specific pathology. In the case of the blind, this involved above all the headings concerned with phase development, fixation and regression. In the case of the borderline children, so far the sections containing information about cathexis of self and cathexis of objects have been provided with subdivisions to trace in more minute detail the location of pathology. When the Profile schema was applied to the characterization of the adolescent, it had to be widened to accommodate the variations of superego development, ideal formation, and the identity problems, which form an essential part of the adolescent's upheaval.


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