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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.

Biermann, G. (1959). Schuhmacher, Wilhelm: Das Kind in der Schule. Dortmund (W. Crüwell Verlag) 1957, 350 Seiten, geb. 12,80 DM.. Psyche – Z Psychoanal., 13(8):875-875.

(1959). Psyche – Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 13(8):875-875

Schuhmacher, Wilhelm: Das Kind in der Schule. Dortmund (W. Crüwell Verlag) 1957, 350 Seiten, geb. 12,80 DM.

Review by:
G. Biermann

Die aktuellen Nöte des Schulkindes rechtfertigen das Erscheinen dieses Budies, das bevorzugt dem Volksschulkind gewidmet ist. Verf. berichtet umfassend aus langjähriger Praxis im Schuldienst und in der Erziehungsberatung über die in den letzten Jahrzehnten gewonnenen Erfahrungen auf diesen Gebieten.

In klarer Übersicht und aufgeschlossen für neuere Bestrebungen, wird über die Entwicklung des Kindes aus der Sicht des Biologen, Psychologen, Soziologen und Pädagogen referiert. So entsteht ein Bild des Kindes, das der Realität des heutigen Lebens, wie auch den damit verbundenen schulischen und anderen Problemen gerecht wird.

Das Buch gewinnt dadurch an dokumentarischem Wert, daß Verf. bedeutende Autoren ausführlich zitiert und über alle wesentlichen statistischen Erhebungen unterrichtet. Falldarstellungen von erziehungsschwierigen und schulversagenden Kindern geben wertvolle Illustrationen der jeweils erörterten Problematik.

Dieses trotz seiner Fülle klar und überzeugend aufgebaute Werk beweist einmal mehr den Wert einer am rechten Ort angewandten, tiefenpsychologisch fundierten Erziehungshilfe.

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