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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.

Kay, J. (1999). The Neurobiological And Developmental Basis For Psychotherapeutic Intervention: Michael Moskowitz, Catherine Monk, Carol Kaye, and Steven Ellman. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1997, 270 pp., $40.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(1):248-249.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(1):248-249

The Neurobiological And Developmental Basis For Psychotherapeutic Intervention: Michael Moskowitz, Catherine Monk, Carol Kaye, and Steven Ellman. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1997, 270 pp., $40.00.

Review by:
Jerald Kay

This collection of essays grew out of a 1996 conference cosponsored by the publisher. Given this provenance, it is hardly surprising that The Neurobiological and Developmental Basis for Psychotherapeutic Intervention is an uneven book whose title perhaps promises more than it delivers. Of the seven chapters, two stand out. The first is chapter 1, in which Allan Schore provides a cogent overview of how early affective experiences between mother and infant promote development and how they possibly relate to in-depth clinical work. Readers seeking a succinct introduction to Schore's earlier substan-tial work (1994) will find this chapter quite helpful. Unfortunately, however, the quality of some illustrations is poor, which detracts from its appeal. Chapter 2, by two of the editors, Ellman and Monk, takes Schore to task for failing to appreciate the impact during the first three months of development of modalities other than the visual. They argue that Schore's model of affect regulation grounded in the attachment process gives insufficient credit to tactile, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory contributions. They conclude their chapter with questions they feel are ignored in Schore's conceptualization. First, given the emphasis on the positive affective relationship between infant and mother as instrumental in development, how does one account for attachments between infants and mothers that are highly sadistic? Ellen and Monk also question Shore's overemphasis on biologically based gender differences, to the exclusion of those related to social forces.

[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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