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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.

Tasman, A. (1982). Loss of Self-Cohesion in Terminal Illness. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 10(4):515-526.

(1982). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10(4):515-526

Loss of Self-Cohesion in Terminal Illness

Allan Tasman, M.D.

The study of the emotional problems that arise in a patient with terminal illness has occupied a growing area of interest in psychiatry and other mental health disciplines. The work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1969) and others (Rothenberg, 1961; Schwartz and Karasu, 1977; Hertzberg, 1972) has delineated the expectable responses in the dying patient. Kubler-Ross has outlined what she considers to be a prototypic progression in stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The major focus of writings about therapy with the dying patient has been on problems of anger and depression which arise as part of the anticipatory grief or mourning process. Many suggestions have been made regarding therapeutic strategies to unblock the mourning process and encourage its natural progression. This paper will suggest a framework for psychotherapy with the dying patient based on Kohut's (1971) self-psychology.

In Kohut's view, the cohesive functional self encompasses the sense of self-awareness, self-esteem, and the range of coping skills that make up an individual's personality and self-experience. The fears and affects aroused by terminal illness can be seen as a time of stress to self-cohesion. Pattison (1967) outlines these fears: of the unknown, of loneliness, of loss of body and body function, of loss of self-control, of loss of identity, and of regression to primitive levels of functioning. Regulation of and coping with these fears and their impact are functions of a cohesive self. Although vulnerability of the cohesive self varies individually, these stresses are present in all dying patients.

[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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