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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.

Hoit, M. (1994). On the Analyst's Noninterpretive Activities in the Clinical Situation. Ann. Psychoanal., 22:209-223.

(1994). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 22:209-223

On the Analyst's Noninterpretive Activities in the Clinical Situation

Michael Hoit

In recent years psychoanalytic practice has expanded to include the routine treatment of deficiencies in ego development. This has brought an enhanced interest in the analyst's noninterpretive activities because failures in child-hood relationships are among the analyzable causes of ego deficiencies and the analytic relationship is a model for understanding childhood relationships. But attempts to bring the analytic relationship into theoretical prominence have led to uncertainty within the analytic community regarding the effects of the analyst's activities on the analysis of intrapsychic conflict. There is a concern that excessive attention to the therapeutic interaction may support the analysand's or the analyst's defenses against observing unconscious drive derivatives. Frequently, analysts who have recognized the need for expanding psychoanalytic clinical theory to include an interactional point of view have pulled back from recognizing the full implications of that step.

The theories of psychoanalytic technique that focus on psychopathology, as if it is best understood as defined by problems of ego deficiency, propose that there is a current insufficiency in self-regulating psychological structure and that the analyst must play an active role in helping the analysand compensate for the insufficiency (Terman, 1984–1985) In these models of psychoanalytic therapy, the past is seen as a model for understanding current needs, whereas, in classical theory, the past is seen as currently active and represented by repressed unconscious fantasies. In these models of deficiency, cure comes from the reconstruction of failures in current relationships and from the internalization of the therapeutic relationship.

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