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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.

Nepalleck (1919). August Forel, Der Hypnotismus oder die Suggestion und die Psychotherapie. VII. Auflage. (Stuttgart 1918, F. Enke.). Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 5(3):213.

(1919). Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 5(3):213

August Forel, Der Hypnotismus oder die Suggestion und die Psychotherapie. VII. Auflage. (Stuttgart 1918, F. Enke.)

Review by:
Nepalleck

Gestützt auf Semons „Mneme“-Theorie entwickelt Forel seine Ansichten über das Bewußtsein sowie über das Verhältnis der Nerventätigkeit zur Nervensubstanz und zu den Bewußtseinszuständen, geht dann zur Besprechung des Hypnotismus und der verwandten Erscheinungen über, wobei auch Spiritismus, Okkultismus, Telepathie etc. zur Erörterung gelangen.

Kapitel VI und XII enthalten wertvolle Winke für die Ausübung der Hypnose zu therapeutischen Zwecken.

Der Besprechung der Psychoanalyse war schon in der sechsten Auflage ein eigenes Kapitel (Kapitel VII) gewidmet. Dort schließt der Autor seine an Mißverständnissen reichen Ausführungen mit der Bemerkung, daß er sich nicht anmaße, mit seiner Skizze „über eine Frage aburteilen zu wollen, die“ er „viel zu wenig selbst nachprüfen konnte“. Es ist zu bedauern, daß der greise Gelehrte zu einer solchen Nachprüfung seither keine Gelegenheit mehr gefunden hat.

Dr. Nepalleck.

[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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