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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.

Loewald, H.W. (1960). On the Therapeutic Action of Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:16-33.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:16-33

On the Therapeutic Action of Psycho-Analysis Language Translation

Hans W. Loewald, M.D.

Advances in our understanding of the therapeutic action of psycho-analysis should be based on deeper insight into the psycho-analytic process. By 'psycho-analytic process' I mean the significant interactions between patient and analyst which ultimately lead to structural changes in the patient's personality. Today, after more than fifty years of psycho-analytic investigation and practice, we are in a position to appreciate, if not to understand better, the role which interaction with environment plays in the formation, development, and continued integrity of the psychic apparatus. Psycho-analytic ego-psychology, based on a variety of investigations concerned with ego-development, has given us some tools to deal with the central problem of the relationship between the development of psychic structures and interaction with other psychic structures, and of the connexion between ego-formation and object-relations.

If 'structural changes in the patient's personality' means anything, it must mean that we assume that ego-development is resumed in the therapeutic process in psycho-analysis. And this resumption of ego-development is contingent on the relationship with a new object, the analyst. The nature and the effects of this new relationship are under discussion. It should be fruitful to attempt to correlate our understanding of the significance of object-relations for the formation and development of the psychic apparatus with the dynamics of the therapeutic process. A first approach to this task is made here.

[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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