Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
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.

Mackenzie, S. (2014). What Maisie Knew, directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee, 2013. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(2):223-225.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(2):223-225

What Maisie Knew, directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee, 2013

Review by:
Suzanna Mackenzie

How prophetic was Henry James's 1897 novel What Maisie Knew? Themes of a child as flotsam amid the chop and change of an acrimonious divorce, multiple partnering, extended step-parenting families, and the ephemeral nature of their defined roles are now common-place. The film version transposes the novel's nineteenth century London to contemporary Manhattan and takes up the same thread of family breakdown, centring around two extremely self-centred people, Maisie's parents, who are in the bitter throes of separation and divorce, creating a sadly familiar, and at times uncomfortably galling, film to sit through.

The novel has Maisie as a young child who develops to the age of thirteen. Her feelings and inner processing are intrinsic and available to us in this medium, whereas the film stays with five-year-old Maisie for only a few months. Instead of Maisie's explicit thoughts, we have the language of images.


[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.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.