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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.

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Results 1 - 30 of 41 for your search on "margaret mahler":

Kris, E. Greenacre, P. Freud, A. Hartmann, H. Lewin, B.D. Escalona, S. Loewenstein, R.M. Jacobson, E. Spitz, R.A. Waelder, R. Davison, C. Bell, A. Mittelmann, B. Mahler, M.S. Bychowski, G. (1954). Problems of Infantile Neurosis—A Discussion. Psychoanal. St. Child, 9:16-71. […]
Mahler, M. (1967). ÜBER PSYCHOSE UND SCHIZOPHRENIE IM KINDESALTER. Psyche – Z Psychoanal., 21(12):895-914. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1944). Schizophrenia in Childhood: The Nervous Child, I, 1941, pp. 137–250.. Psychoanal Q., 13:131-133. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1944). Tics and Impulsions in Children: A Study of Motility. Psychoanal Q., 13:430-444. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1945). The Effect of Pleasant and Unpleasant Ideas on the Respiratory Pattern (Spirogram) in Psychoneurotic Patients: Jacob E. Finesinger. Amer. J. of Psychiatry, C, 1944, pp. 659–667.. Psychoanal Q., 14:566. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1945). The Problem Child and his Environment: H. Banister and M. Ravden. Brit. J. of Psychology, XXXIV, 1944, pp. 60–68.. Psychoanal Q., 14:430. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1945). The Spirogram in Certain Psychiatric Disorders: Jacob E. Finesinger. Amer. J. of Psychiatry, C, 1943, pp. 155–169.. Psychoanal Q., 14:564-565. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1946). Psychogenic Incontinence of Fæces (Encopresis) in Children: Edward Lehman. Amer. J. of Diseases of Children, LXVIII, 1944, pp. 190–199.. Psychoanal Q., 15:557. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1946). The Hospital Treatment of Emotionally Disturbed Children: Lewis R. Wolberg. Mental Hygiene XXIX, 1945, pp. 395–403.. Psychoanal Q., 15:555. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1948). The Psychoanalytical Approach to Juvenile Delinquency: By Kate Friedlander, M.D. New York: International Universities Press, 1947. 296 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 17:277-280. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1949). A Psychoanalytic Evaluation of Tic in Psychopathology of Children—Symptomatic and Tic Syndrome. Psychoanal. St. Child, 4:279-310. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1952). On Child Psychosis and Schizophrenia—Autistic and Symbiotic Infantile Psychoses. Psychoanal. St. Child, 7:286-305. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1958). Autism and Symbiosis, Two Extreme Disturbances of Identity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 39:77-82. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1960). Symposium on Psychotic Object Relationships—Iii. Perceptual De-Differentiation and Psychotic 'Object Relationship'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:548-553. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1961). On Sadness and Grief in Infancy and Childhood—Loss and Restoration of the Symbiotic Love Object. Psychoanal. St. Child, 16:332-351. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1963). Thoughts about Development and Individuation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 18:307-324. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1967). Child Development and the Curriculum. Bul. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 23:876-886. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1967). On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:740-763. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1968). Comment on Dr Löfgren's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:410-412. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1969). Autismo y simbiosis: dos trastornos extremos de la identidad. Rev. psicoanál., 26(1):201-216. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1971). A Study of the Separation-Individuation Process—And its Possible Application to Borderline Phenomena in the Psychoanalytic Situation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 26:403-424. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1972). On the First Three Subphases of the Separation-Individuation Process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:333-338. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1972). Rapprochement Subphase of the Separation-Individuation Process. Psychoanal Q., 41:487-506. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1974). On the First Three Subphases of the Separation-Individuation Process. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 3(1):295-306. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1974). Symbiosis and Individuation—The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. Psychoanal. St. Child, 29:89-106. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1975). Die Bedeutung des Loslösungs- und Individuationsprozesses für die Beurteilung von Borderline-Phänomenen. Psyche – Z Psychoanal., 29(12):1078-1095. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1975). Discussion of Bernard L. Pacella's Paper "Early Ego Development and the Déjà Vu". J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 23:322-326. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1975). On the Current Status of the Infantile Neurosis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 23:327-333. […]
Mahler, M.S. (1975). Symbiose und Individuation: Die psychische Geburt des Menschenkindes. Psyche – Z Psychoanal., 29(7):609-625. […]
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