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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.

Garfinkel, P.E. (1988). Fear of Being Fat: The Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia (2nd Ed.). Edited by C. Philip Wilson with the assistance of Charles C. Hogan and Ira L. Mintz. North Vale, N.J.: Aronson, 1985.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 36:839-842.

(1988). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 36:839-842

Fear of Being Fat: The Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia (2nd Ed.). Edited by C. Philip Wilson with the assistance of Charles C. Hogan and Ira L. Mintz. North Vale, N.J.: Aronson, 1985.

Review by:
Paul E. Garfinkel, M.D.

The contributors to this book are members of the Psychosomatic Study Group of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York, and specialize in the treatment of psychosomatic disorders. This group was led initially by Melitta Sperling and, since 1973, by Wilson. The purpose of this book is to provide a framework for understanding both the bulimic and restricting forms of anorexia nervosa and, based on this, an approach to treatment. The treatment emphasizes a focus on pregenital conflicts, part-object relations, and the central issue of the transference. Psychoanalysis is described repeatedly as the treatment of choice for these patients, even when they are extremely emaciated.

The 18 chapters have been organized into five sections. The first, on predisposing factors, consists of two chapters by Wilson. This is followed by four chapters on psychodynamic structure; these begin with an older paper of Sperling's, giving her views of the syndrome. Section Three deals with transference and countertransference; Section Four, with treatment; and Section Five, with special issues such as the amenorrhea in anorexia nervosa and problems with the use of medication in bulimia.

There are strengths to the volume. These include (1) the emphasis by various contributors on the problems of control experienced by these patients; (2) the careful distinction between bulimic and restricting forms of the illness and the characterization of the bulimic as having an impulse disorder; (3) a large component to each chapter consists of clinical case descriptions; and (4) the material on transference and countertransference is particularly helpful.

[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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