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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.

Rosenbaum, M. (1954). Freud—eitingon—magnes Correspondence—Psychoanalysis at the Hebrew University. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:311-317.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:311-317

Freud—eitingon—magnes Correspondence—Psychoanalysis at the Hebrew University

Milton Rosenbaum, M.D.

In the summer of 1953, while in Israel as Visiting Professor of Psychiatry at the Hebrew University—Hadassah Medical School, I was invited to give a talk to the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society at a regular meeting held in Jerusalem. The first part of the meeting was set aside as a memorial service commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of Dr. Eitingon. Dr. Eitingon was the driving force and moving spirit in the development of psychoanalysis in Palestine, and I was deeply touched by the tender feelings of love, devotion and respect that his former students and colleagues expressed toward him that morning.

As part of my talk I discussed the growth of the psychoanalytic movement in the United States with some emphasis on the recent trend in some quarters of integrating psychoanalysis into the Universities. I also expressed my hope and wish to create a psychoanalytically oriented Department of Psychiatry in the Medical School in Jerusalem.

After that meeting I was approached by Dr. Aryeh Feigenbaum, Professor of Opthalmology at the Medical School, who told me of the original but unfortunately unsuccessful efforts to develop psychoanalysis in the Hebrew University.

[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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