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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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Z, G.Z, W.Zabarenko, Lucy M.Zabarenko, Lucy
Zabarenko, Ralph N.Zabelina, VeraZablotny, ElaineZabolitzki, Monika
Zabriskie, Beverley D.Zabriskie, BeverleyZac De Filc, SaraZac De Goldstein, Raquel
Zac, JoelZaccagnini, CorradoZaccario, MicheleZach, Sanno E.
Zacharia, EleniZacharias, G.Zacharias, GerhardZachary, Anne
Zacher, AlbertZachrisson, AndersZachrisson, Henrik D.Zachry, Caroline B.
Zack, Deborah E.Zack, DeborahZacks, Jeffrey M.Zadik, Ann
Zador, NokaZagermann, PeterZagury, DanielZaharia, Alexandra
Zahavi, DanZahlmann, FrankZahradník, PetrZaidel, Aya
Zaidens, Sadie H.Zaitlin, RobertZak de Goldstein, RaquelZak, Joel
Zakaria, HazliZalayet, JillZaleznik, AbrahamZalidis, Sotiris
ZalligerZaltzman, NathalieZalusky, SharonZaman, Bashiran
Zamanian, KavehZambonelli, F.Zambonelli, FabioZamfirescu, Vasile D.
Zamora, Dra. C.Zamperini, AdrianoZana, KatalinZanardi, Claudia
Zanardo, AndreZander, AlfredZane, Manuel D.Zanette, Michela
Zanette, MirellaZanger, ElenaZanocco, GiorgioZanuso, B.
Zanuso, BillaZanzi, MauroZaphiriou Woods, MarieZaphiriou, Marie
Zaphiropoulos, Miltiades L.Zaphiropoulos, MiltiadesZapiola, Héctor Q.Zapparoli, G. C.
Zapparoli, Gian C.Zapparoli, GiancarloZapparoli, Giovanni C.Zappellini, Gabriella B.
Zarem, SaraZaretsky, EliZaretsky, SheilaZarnegar, Gita
Zaslavsky, JacòZaslavsky, JacóZaslow, Stephen L.Zavala, Nashyiela L.
Zavattini, Giulio C.Zavitzianos, GeorgeZavitzianos, GeorgesZayas, Luis H.
Zborowski, Michael J.Zeal, PaulZeanah, Charles H.Zeavin, Hannah
Zeavin, LynneZebdi, RafikaZecca, Loredana M.Zeck, Gregory R.
Zeddies, Timothy J.Zee, Hugo J.Zeeck, AlmutZegans, Leonard S.
Zegans, SusanZegerius, L.Zegers, BeatrizZeifman, Israel
Zeiler, JoachimZeise, LudwigZeisel, ElliotZeitlin, Diane
Zeitlin, MichaelZeitlyn, B. B.Zeitner, Richard M.Zeitz, John A.
Zeitzschel, UtaZelevansky, PaulZeligman, RuthZeligs, Dorothy F.
Zeligs, Meyer A.Zelitch, SimoneZeller, Shirah K.Zellner, Maggie
Zellner, Margaret R.Zelmanowits, JosefZelnick, Lawrence M.Zelnick, Lawrence
Zemmelman, SteveŽenatý, JanZenker, RenateZennaro, Carla R.
Zennaro, CarlaZentner, Ervin B.Zentner, MonnaZenz, Helmuth
Zepf, Florian D.Zepf, JudithZepf, S.Zepf, Siegfried
Zephaniah, Benjamin Obadiah I.Zeppelin, Ilka V.Zerbe, Kathryn J.Zerbino, Ettore
Zerbo, ErinZerfaß, UrbanZerilli, MarioZerla, Aurelio
Zern, DavidZervis, ChristosZetzel, Élisabeth R.Zetzel, Elisabeth R.
Zetzel, Elizabeth R.Zetzel, ElizabethZeul, MechthildZeuthen, Katrine
Zevalkink, JolienZhang, PeichaoZhang, TaoZhang, Wei
Zhang, YichiZhong, JieZhu, Caifang J.Zicherman, Viviane
Zicht, Stefan R.Zickler, Elaine P.Zickler, ElaineZiegler, A.
Ziegler, ErnstZiegler, HellenZiegler, Robert G.Zielen, Viktor
Zienert-Eilts, Karin J.Zienert-Eilts, KarinZients, Alan B.Zier, Ursula
Zierer, EdithZierer, ErnestZierl, WolfgangZiferstein, Isidore
Zigante, FranckZigmond, DavidZilbach, Joan J.Zilberg, Nathan J.
Zilbersheid, UriZilberstein, KarenZilboorg, GrecoryZilboorg, Gregory
Zilcha-Mano, SigalZilcosky, JohnZilkha, N.Zilkha, Nathalie
Zillinger, GerritZiman-Tobin, PhyllisZimbel, Elaine A.Zimeray, Colette
Zimerman, DavidZimmer, J.Zimmer, JürgenZimmer, Richard B.
Zimmer, RichardZimmerZimmerman, D. P.Zimmerman, David
Zimmerman, JosephZimmerman, LeeZimmerman, MatthewZimmerman, Muriel
Zimmerman, PatrickZimmerman, Shari A.Zimmerman, Trisha N.Zimmermann, Andrea
Zimmermann, CamillaZimmermann, ChristophZimmermann, DavidZimmermann, Erhard H.
Zimmermann, FrankZimmermann, FranzZimmermann, I.Zimmermann, Ingeborg
Zimmermann, J.Zimmermann, JohannesZimmermann, Peter B.Zinberg, Dorothy S.
Zinberg, Norman E.Zinchenko, AlexanderZindel, BonnieZindel, Lizabeth
Ziner, FeenieZinkann, Lynn G.Zinke, AchimZinkin, Joseph
Zinkin, LouisZinnecker-Mallmann, KonstanzeZinner, JohnZinovieff, Nicholas
Zinser, HartmutZiob, BrigitteZiolko, H. U.Ziolko, Horst U.
Zippin, DavidZirilli, MariaZirin, Ronald A.Zirinsky, Linda
Zisook, S.Zisook, SidneyZissman, H.Zissman, Hélène
Ziv-Beiman, SharonZivie, AlainZiwar, M.Ziying, Jia
Žižek, SlavojZizek, SlavojZizolfi, SalvatoreZmitrovich, April
Zmud, FridaZoghbi, ImmeubleZohn, HarryZois, Evangelos
Zoja, LuigiZoller, I.Zoller, IsraeleZollikofer
Zontini, GemmaZontleufer-Rosenthal, Ch.Zoppi, JeannineZoppi, Luisa
Zorini, Eugenia O.Zornberg, Avivah G.Zornig, Silvia A.Zorrah, Quen
Zuanna, Paola D.Zubiri, MikelZucchini, GinoZucchini, Stefano
Zuccolin, MariaZucker, Arnold H.Zucker, GaryZucker, Gerhard
Zucker, HerbertZucker, Kenneth J.Zucker, NicoleZuckerberg, Joan O.
Zuckerman, Janet R.Zuelzer, MaryZuess, JonathanZuger, Bernard
Zuili, NadineZuk, Gerald H.Zulliger, H.Zulliger, Hans
Zulliger, MarthaZulligerZullinger, HansZúñiga, José F.
Zur, Mati B.Zürcher, MarkusZuriff, G. E.Zurlo, Maria C.
Zurolo, AnnaZusman, Jose A.Zusman, WaldemarZutt, J.
Zuviría, M.Zwaan, JacobZwart, HubZweig, Arnold
Zweig, M. B.Zweig, StefanZwerling, IsraelZwettler-Otte, Sylvia
Zwiebel, R.Zwiebel, RalfZysman, Samuel
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