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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.

Safirstein, S.L. (1961). The Psychotherapy Relationship. William U. Snyder, Ph.D., The Macmillan Company, New York. 411 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):291-294.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):291-294

The Psychotherapy Relationship. William U. Snyder, Ph.D., The Macmillan Company, New York. 411 pp.

Review by:
Samuel L. Safirstein, M.D.

In attempting to answer the questions “What is the core of psychotherapy?” and “What is effective in psychotherapy?” workers in the field have stressed different aspects, such as catharsis and abreaction, making the unconscious conscious, and gaining insight. In the past ten years the patient-doctor relationship has been in the foreground.

Snyder has made a valuable contribution to the study of this relationship. He believes that “the relationship that develops between the therapist and the client is the essential core of the therapy.” He has found it desirable to develop a method of measuring the subtle attitudes of client and therapist toward each other during the psychotherapeutic process. During a four-year research project he treated twenty postgraduate psychology students for an average of 25.5 sessions each. He devised questionnaires (200 questions) for both therapist and client to answer after each interview, indicating their affective responses to the session and each other. At the end of the project he rated, scaled, and tabulated the responses statistically, bringing them as close as possible to the objectivity of scientific experiment. Although he had to contend with numerous parameters, his emphasis was on the effective aspects between himself as therapist and his clients (also his students).

He defines the psychotherapeutic relationship as “the reciprocity of various sets of affective attitudes which two or more persons hold toward each other in psychotherapy. This implies a sort of mathematical relation between transference and countertransference attitudes.” He includes in the concept of transference both unearned and earned feelings toward the therapist and applies the same for the concept of countertransference.


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