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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.

(1950). Regular Meetings at the New York Academy of Medicine. Am. J. Psychoanal., 10(1):77-79.

(1950). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):77-79

Scientific Meetings

Regular Meetings at the New York Academy of Medicine

Movement in dreams. (Harold Kelman; Sept. 28, 1949) To understand the abstract concept of process, I shall start with the concept movement. I am urging a greater consciousness of our capacity to think abstractly and to develop that capacity. The concept of wholes is an abstraction. Humans limit their horizon by demanding visual concretions. This is based on the false assumption that anything of which a picture cannot be drawn does not exist.

Dr. Horney has used the concept of movement in speaking of moves toward, against, and away from others. In her recent work on attitudes toward self, she speaks of moves away from the self toward glory, and against the self, as expressions of self-hate. The concept of movement is present throughout the biological and physical sciences. I shall use the words “movement,” “moves” and “moving” as we are accustomed to hear them, but in all instances the connotation shall be that of moving. The word moving more appropriately connotes the concept of process.

Movement is an essential aspect of process. Also, movement is a psychophysically neutral term. By “psychophysical,” I mean it is equally applicable to psychological and to physical processes. Starting with psychophysically neutral terms, we will be able to arrive at a more adequate understanding of disorders now referred to as psychosomatic. Movement manifests itself in physical and psychological processes.

Neutral terms are words used as concepts which have a minimum of value connotations.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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