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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.

Wilson, C.P. (1971). On the Limits of the Effectiveness of Psychoanalysis: Early Ego and Somatic Disturbances. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 19:552-564.

(1971). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 19:552-564

On the Limits of the Effectiveness of Psychoanalysis: Early Ego and Somatic Disturbances

C. Philip Wilson, M.D.

Sylvan Keiser, the panel chairman, pointed out in his introductory remarks that the title of the panel was not intended to be understood as pejorative or constricting. He emphasized that it is not possible to provide a sharply demarcated border beyond which psychoanalysis cannot be effective as a therapy or an investigative process. Such questions arise as: What are the different criteria for evaluating "limitations" of analysis? Which patients need a preparatory phase of psychotherapy? Other problems which can effect psychic growth include external and internal deviations from an average psychological environment, congenital or acquired disabilities, and prolonged somatic or life-threatening illnesses in childhood. The panel approached these complex problems by presenting projects that originated in various frames of reference which were, in turn, discussed by the other panelists.

David A. Freedman, in his presentation, approached the problem of the limitations of psychoanalysis from the viewpoint of the implications of findings made in the course of observational research on a group of infants and children who suffered from early environmental deprivation and/or significant congenital somatic sensory deficits. He believed these cases offer a fruitful medium for the investigation of such elements of the psychic structure as the differentiation of a sense of self; the differentiation of objects as existing apart from the self; the establishment of object relations; and the development through processes of introjection and identification of such precursors of the superego as both prohibiting and idealized internal object representations. The maladaptive aspects of psychic functioning that result from deficiencies in age-appropriate experience have to be differentiated from those resulting from the kinds of experience which can be considered psychologically traumatic and anxiety provoking on the basis of defensive ego operations. For example, Freedman took issue with Felix Deutsch, who considered congenital blindness a trauma analogous to that suffered by an amputee.

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