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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.

Portnoy, I. (1951). Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization. By Karen Horney, M.D. 391 pp. W. W. Norton & Co., $4.50.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 11(1):63-71.

(1951). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11(1):63-71

Book Reviews

Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization. By Karen Horney, M.D. 391 pp. W. W. Norton & Co., $4.50.

Review by:
Isidore Portnoy, M.D.

A fuller and deeper understanding of his own nature is properly a matter of vital concern to every human being. Second only in importance to this concern is the increasing interest being taken by many in the origin, development and character of that total disturbance of personality to which the term neurosis is given. Neurosis and Human Growth is in my opinion the most important psychoanalytic contribution to our understanding of the nature of the human organism and of its neurotic development since the basic work of Sigmund Freud.

Dr. Karen Horney, in her four previous major works, has stated her conviction that the human being is not naturally destructive. Particularly in Our Inner Conflicts did she present her view that destructiveness to self and others is a neurotic phenomenon, a result of anxiety, of neurotic conflicts and the defenses against anxiety and conflict. She contended that freed from their neurotic entanglements, human beings strive naturally to live constructively with and for themselves and others.

This optimistic and constructive view of human nature constitutes the central theme of Neurosis and Human Growth and is, I believe, its single most important contribution. The basic postulate of this view is that there exists at the core of the human personality a dynamic principle—the real self—which strives ceaselessly to realize the human potentialities inherent in it.

Self-realization is a dynamic process, an innate striving to fulfill the capacities and potentialities with which all human beings are born, as well as the individual potentialities which make each person unique.

[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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