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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.

Robbins, L.L. (1956). The Borderline Case. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 4:550-562.

(1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 4:550-562

The Borderline Case

Lewis L. Robbins, M.D.

The panel was opened by the Chairman, Leo Rangell, who in his "Introductory Remarks" presented first a brief review of the development of our interest in borderline states, and pointed to the increased attention which these have been receiving in recent years. This inevitable course, following the early deliberate limitation of psychoanalysis to the hysterias, to neurotics and to the transference neuroses in general, came about from the merging of two opposite directions. These were (1) the gradual increased understanding downwards of the transference neuroses themselves, beyond and below the phase of the oedipal conflicts, to the deeper pregenital structures; and (2) an upward direction, from work with the narcissistic neuroses, which in the meantime had also subsequently been found to be accessible. These both resulted in a traversing of the differences between the neuroses and psychoses and a natural interest from both directions in the borderland between them.

A corollary to this historical development was a parallel interest in psychotherapy and in modified psychoanalytic procedures concomitant with this increased concern with the borderline disorders. This historical course pushes our frontiers into a widening are and results, as in the earliest phase of psychoanalysis, in mutual reverberations between therapy and research, on the one hand sharpening our therapeutic armamentarium while at the same time yielding an increased clarification of the earliest anxieties and dynamics and psychic structures. The challenge, in this area of multiple and almost infinite variables, is (1) for us to become more precise about the syndrome itself, and (2) to objectify as much as possible the therapeutic moves, on the scientific and rational basis of our metapsychological understanding of genesis, etiology, and dynamics. Toward this there is a need for a combination of extensive and intensive observations.

[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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