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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.

Kelman, H. (1968). The Dean. Am. J. Psychoanal., 28(1):106-107.

(1968). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 28(1):106-107

The Dean

Harold Kelman, M.D.

We are completing the first year of the second quarter of a century of our existence. Problems and vistas not conceivable when the Institute was founded are upon us. Among those that concern us is the impact of the third psychiatric revolution. What is and will be the place of psychoanalysis and of training institutes in the burgeoning field of community psychiatry? How can we effectively meet the problems it creates for us? How can we productively participate in and contribute to the possibilities it opens to us?

Candidates and graduates, in increasing numbers, are assuming a variety of roles in community mental health centers, in the implementing and organizing, in the staffing and directing of them. The Karen Horney Clinic has evidenced its awareness of this need and trend through the increasing number and range of its programs offering services to a widening spectrum of the members of the community. For a number of years the Institute has organized and staffed programs of courses for general practitioners supported by NIMH grants. This creditable service to the community of our colleagues has been favorably noted by the psychiatric profession. New ways of communicating the psychodynamic principles of our theoretical orientation are constantly being sought. They lend themselves particularly to an understanding of individual and group process and to the maintaining and fulfilling of the functions of each to their mutual advantage.

Always our base must be solid training which means intensive personal analysis, supervision of day-to-day work with patients, and courses of a theoretical and clinical nature which not only serve to communicate information, but also are an experience in learning.

[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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