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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.

(1994). Dean's Reception and Graduation Ceremonies New York City September 26, 1993. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(1):95-95.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(1):95-95

American Institute for Psychoanalysis

Dean's Reception and Graduation Ceremonies New York City September 26, 1993

Each year, the Dean of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis invites its faculty, graduates, candidates and students to a reception and graduation program. This year, Dr. Jeffrey Rubin, Dean of the Institute, thanked Dr. Joann Gerardi, President of the Institute for her “outstanding leadership, her strength, commitment, intelligence, and warmth”. He also thanked the Board of Trustees and the Faculty Council of the Institute as well as Dr. Barbara Bell, the President of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis and its Executive Council for their fine work throughout the previous year. Dr. Rubin announced the deaths in the past year of Dr. Bella van Bark and Dr. Norman Shulack, esteemed graduates of the Institute. At these ceremonies the following candidates were certified in psychoanalysis: Nathan M. Horwitz, C.S.W.; Ira Kaufman, C.S.W.; Zoltan F. Morvay, Psy. D. The following students completed the Program in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Debra L. Block, C.S.W.; Carmen Ruth Cardona, C.S.W.; Maud Friedman, C.S.W.; Frances Krupka, C.S.W.; Fusako Nakamachi, C.S.W.; Jaine J. O'Neill, C.S.W.; Anne F. Wheatley, C.S.W. Mr. Raymond J. Greenwald presented the Raymond J. Greenwald Foundation Award to Betsy Hallerman, C.S.W.

Following are Dr. Rubin's remarks.

[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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