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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.

Impert, L. (1999). The Body Held Hostage: The Paradox of Self-Sufficiency. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35(4):647-671.

(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(4):647-671

The Body Held Hostage: The Paradox of Self-Sufficiency

Laura Impert, C.S.W.

I Felt a Cleaving in my Mind —

As if my Brain had split —

I tried to match it — Seam by Seam —

But could not make them fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join

Unto the thought before —

But Sequence ravelled out of Sound

Like Balls — upon a Floor.

—Emily Dickinson

A TYPE OF MENTAL FUNCTIONING is often found in patients who convey an overly developed sense of self-sufficiency and independence. These patients present a particular clinical challenge, because many of them, while high-functioning, are overly defended and can be made uncomfortable with the treatment process. I use the concepts of premature ego development and the “mind-object” to explore the specific defensive posture of pseudo-maturity that characterizes the way in which these patients negotiate the demands of human relations. In addition, I pay particular attention to the way mind-object functioning shapes the somatic and sensory realm in these individuals, often narrowing access to the fullest range of their bodily states. I also focus on early development in order to highlight the preverbal stage in which the infant's somatic discovery of his or her own body is set.

[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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