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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.

Mischel, E. (1961). Candidates Association. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(1):108-108.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(1):108-108

Candidates Association

Review by:
Ellis Mischel, M.D.

One of the primary functions and objectives of the Candidates Association is to promote and develop good, healthy relationships among the candidates, as well as between the Candidates Association and the Institute, the Association, and the Karen Horney Clinic. Our meetings during the past year were planned with this in mind at all times. They were held on Saturday nights in the informal, comfortable atmosphere of our homes, a proper setting for the inclusion of both professional and social aspects of our relatedness. Marital partners were invited, so that the oft-heard and not unjustified complaint of “another night away from home” would be obviated. There were four meetings in all. They were well-attended and well worth the time and effort expended in their planning and preparation.

The professional portion of the meetings was on the same high level as heretofore. Dr. Claude H. Miller presented a well-prepared paper dealing with the analysis of a patient who showed extreme hopelessness. In treatment he demonstrated the effective use of an interim negative therapeutic reaction. At a later meeting, Drs. Alexandra and Martin Symonds presented theoretical and clinical material concerning the relationship between parents and children with specific reference to the major solutions. The discussion following each of these papers was lively and stimulating, and the meetings continued far into the night. Conversation, food, and drink were far from lacking.

The final meeting of the year was especially memorable because it was the first one held at our new home, the Karen Horney Clinic Building.

[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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