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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.

Yorke, C. (1996). Diagnosis in Clinical Practice: Its Relationship to Psychoanalytic Theory. Psychoanal. St. Child, 51:190-214.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 51:190-214

Diagnosis in Clinical Practice: Its Relationship to Psychoanalytic Theory

Clifford Yorke

The rapidly growing diversity of psychoanalytic clinical practice calls for a reexamination of its relationship to psychoanalytic theory. This is as strikingly evident in the field of diagnosis as it is elsewhere. Many analysts bring together their clinical observations in a clinical theory that may appear to fit their clinical findings well. But a clinical theory is not to be identified with a theory of the way the mind works (metapsychology), and an attempt is made, in what follows, to clarify the relationship between the two. It is argued that an uncritical attachment to clinical theories unsupported by metapsychological understanding has been furthered by two main longstanding developments: “object relations” theory and the extension of the clinical concept of transference. A misapplication of Freud's structural model may, in part, have contributed to these developments. This argument, and matters related to it, is pursued in some detail in respect to problems of psychoanalytic diagnosis, with special reference to some of Anna Freud's contributions to the field that seem to be somewhat neglected. Finally, in pointing to metapsychology as a check to clinical speculation, some of the illustrations are drawn from psychoanalytic treatment material, on the grounds that psychoanalytic work with the patient can be viewed in terms of continuing diagnosis.

[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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