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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.

List of Articles

Volume 12 (1989)

Issue 1
Psychoanalytic Insights into Problems of Adoption
Editorial Note  3
George S. Moran
Aspects of the Relationship to Self and Objects in Early Maternal Deprivation and Adoption  5
Jill Hodges
Treatment of an 8-Year-Old Adopted Girl  29
Elisabeth Müller
‘Well, I Couldn't Say No, Could I?’; Difficulties in the Path of Late Adoption  49
Frances Salo
A Report on the Conference  65
Marianne Parsons
Book Reviews and Notices
Freud: A Life for Our Time by Peter Gay. London: Dent. 1988. pp. 810. £16.95When Spring Comes: Awakenings in Clinical Psychoanalysis by M. Masud Khan. London: Chatto & Windus. 1988. pp. 212. £16.95Freud in Exile: Psychoanalysis and Its Vicissitudes. E. Timms & N. Segal (eds.). New Haven & London: Yale Univ. Press. pp. 310. £25  71
Clifford Yorke
My Work with Borderline Patients by Harold F., Searles, MD. Northvale, NJ & London: Jason Aronson. 1986, pp. 409. $37.50  77
Peter Fonagy
Book Notices  79
Liselotte Frankl: An Obituary  85
Clifford Yorke
Issue 2
On Tolerating Mental States: Theory of Mind in Borderline Personality  91
Peter Fonagy
The Girl with Worries in a Box and the Key is Lost: Report of Two Years' Treatment of a Nine-Year-Old Girl With Severe Anxiety  117
Frances Salo
The Trustmeter: The Analysis of an Anxious Latency Boy  143
Jennifer Davids
Perceptions of Freud  167
Clifford Yorke
Issue 3 - International Scientific Colloquium on Self-esteem and Shame: A Psychoanalytic Approach
International Scientific Colloquium on ‘Self-Esteem and Shame: A Psychoanalytic Approach’
Programme  177
Summaries of the Pre-Circulated Papers  179
First Day  183
Second Day  226
Issue 4
Assessment of a Latency Boy With Obsessional Symptoms  265
Duncan McLean
Reconstruction of a Germ Phobia in a Latency Girl  281
Pauline Cohen
Guilt and Internal Object Relationships  297
Joseph Sandler
The Analysis of a Nonverbal Latency Boy  309
Jill Miller
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