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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.

McNamee, R. (2007). Moving Beyond the Comfort Zone in Psychotherapy, by Nancy Bridges. Lanham, PA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, 210 pages, $40.. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 14(1):95-100.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 14(1):95-100

Book Review

Moving Beyond the Comfort Zone in Psychotherapy, by Nancy Bridges. Lanham, PA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, 210 pages, $40.

Review by:
Regina McNamee, LCSW-C

Bridges' book describes psychotherapy through a relational lens. The book provides multiple theoretical definitions of this perspective, most specifically whetting two conditions for a helpful therapeutic outcome. The first condition is described as “expanding one's relational procedural knowledge” and the second condition emphasizes that an explored relationship field between the therapist and the patient is an explicit space to foster the first condition. The title of the book refers to the changing traditional trends from the therapist as a “neutral” presence in the therapeutic dyad to the therapist as an active participant and change agent. Relational therapy emphasizes mutuality, not neutrality, between therapist and patient. In distilling the book's content, the central conditions for helpful therapeutic outcome can first be located in Chapter Two, where Bridges quotes Lyons-Ruth (2004) in describing procedural knowledge as “knowing how to do something, how to behave, rather than knowing information.” She describes relational procedural knowledge as a “non-verbal internal representation of implicit procedures for how one conducts a relationship” (p. 34). These previously determined, sometimes unconscious, ways of relating are experienced in the therapeutic dyad.

To this end, Bridges explores the relational field between the therapist and patient. She calls the psychotherapy relationship the “vehicle” for transforming relational procedural knowledge and optimally, expanding it.

[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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