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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.

Ilan, E. (1979). Probleme der psychoanalytisch ausgerichteten Psychotherapie mit männlichen Adoleszenten. Psyche – Z Psychoanal., 33(12):1099-1113.

(1979). Psyche – Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 33(12):1099-1113

Probleme der psychoanalytisch ausgerichteten Psychotherapie mit männlichen Adoleszenten

Eliezer Ilan, Ph.D.

Translated by:
Gertrud Maurer

Probleme in der psychoanalytisch ausgerichteten Behandlung junger männlicher Adoleszenten stehen hier zur Debatte. Die Fälle dreier Jungen zeigen, wie schwer, aber auch wie notwendig es ist, die entscheidende Rolle zu interpretieren, die dem Eltern-Kind-Verhältnis gerade bei Adoleszenten zukommt, die die Bedeutung der Eltern verneinen. Es wird gezeigt, wie die Abwehr durch Intellektualisierung dazu dienen kann, das therapeutische Bündnis zu festigen, und wie eine Interpretation der Übertragung die homosexuelle Panik zu mildern vermag. Sexuelle Probleme werden in bezug auf das religiös-kulturelle Milieu des Jugendlichen behandelt. Obwohl das israelische soziokulturelle Milieu vergangenen und gegenwärtigen Problemen eine ganz besondere Färbung gibt, sind Familienverhältnisse die wichtigsten universal-ätiologischen Faktoren.

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