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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.

Lilleskov, R. (1992). Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research and Intervention: Edited by Mark T. Greenberg, Dante Cicchetti & E. Mark Cummings. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 1990. Pp. 507.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 19:126-129.

(1992). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 19:126-129

Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research and Intervention: Edited by Mark T. Greenberg, Dante Cicchetti & E. Mark Cummings. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 1990. Pp. 507.

Review by:
Roy Lilleskov

This book is a collection of papers by developmental psychologists addressing the theory, research and intervention based on the concept of attachment, particularly as they have been extended from infancy to the preschool years. This concept was introduced by John Bowlby in a series of papers in the 50s and 60s and subsequently elaborated in a three volume series (1969), (1973), (1980). He argued that the infant/caregiver relationship, rather than anaclitic to drive gratifications, was determined by evolutionarily programmed attachment behaviour serving purposes of protection. It was characterized by proximity seeking and interacted with other behaviour systems, such as exploration and fear/wariness. He relied heavily on ethological concepts, systems theory, information theory, etc. This theory was not immediately attractive to psychoanalysts, in part because of his tendentious oversimplifications of and attack on drive theory. George Engel (1971) spelled out these problems in an excellent review article in the IJPA.

Developmental psychologists were drawn to his ideas because they lent themselves to operational research on patterns of behaviour. Mary Salter Ainsworth (1970), in particular, devised a research paradigm called the strange situation, in which the child's reactions to brief separations from the caregiver could be observed and categorized. Secure and insecure attachment patterns were identified at 12 and 18 months and their antecedents and consequences could be studied. However, the strange situation does not suffice to illustrate attachment behaviour beyond infancy, hence comes much of the work reported in this volume.


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