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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.

Kernberg, O.F. (2016). New Developments in Transference Focused Psychotherapy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(2):385-407.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(2):385-407

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

New Developments in Transference Focused Psychotherapy Language Translation

Otto F. Kernberg

(Accepted for publication 26 June 2014)

This paper will summarize recent clinical developments in the treatment of borderline patients at the Personality Disorders Institute at Cornell. The experiences under review will include the careful, ongoing monitoring of developments in the patient's life outside the sessions, and their consideration in diagnosing affective dominance during the hours. Other issues include the discussion of a ‘second chance’ approach to contract violations; the assessment and concern with the patient's assumption of responsibility for himself; the contradictions between actual behavior patterns and life goals, and between personality potentials and present functioning; the technical implications of particular constellations of regressive narcissistic features; drug dependence and antisocial behavior; and life goals and treatment goals.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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