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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.


(1963). Revista de Psicoanálisis, 20(2):124-127


Fidias R. Cesio

La comunicación extraverbal es un tema que el psicoanálisis ha tratado profundamente al desarrollar el concepto de la transferencia-contratransferencia. En esta contribución he de destacar el carácter extraverbal de la comunicación que tiene lugar en estas manifestaciones.

Desde que comencé mi actividad psicoanalítica me llamó la atención la complejidad de la relación que se establece entre el paciente y el analista, y estimulado por los interrogantes que así se me plantaban me ocupé con un particular interés de los problemas de la transferencia y de la contratransferencia. Advertí que mucho de lo que conocía del paciente llegaba a mí sin que yo pudiera explicarme claramente cuál había sido la vía de comunicación. Esta inquietud me llevó a tratar específicamente sobre este problema en un trabajo, El lenguaje no verbal. Su interpretación [3]. Ya anteriormente, buscando comprender estos fenómenos me interesé en los trabajos que Devereux [6] ha reunido en su libro, y con la misma inquietud estudié el caso de un paciente espiritista [1]. A partir de esos años la transferencia-contratransferencia ha sido un tema fundamental en mis trabajos, sobre todo para comprender los procesos que tienen lugar en los casos de reacción terapéutica negativa que he estudiado [5] [2] [4].

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