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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.

Kramer, M. Glucksman, M.L. (2006). Changes in Manifest Dream Affect During Psychoanalytic Treatment. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 34(2):249-260.

(2006). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 34(2):249-260

Changes in Manifest Dream Affect During Psychoanalytic Treatment

Milton Kramer, M.D. and Myron L. Glucksman, M.D.

Affect is central to our understanding of many processes, including dreams. The question has been raised as to whether it is the affective or narrative aspect of dreaming that is central to its development. The purpose of the study is to assess the frequency and valence of affect in the manifest content of dream reports of patients in analytic therapy and if affect is absent to assess the frequency and valence of affect in the associations to the dream reports without affect[MK1].

The presence and valence of affect was evaluated in the first and last manifest dream report of 24 patients who had completed psychoanalytic treatment. If no affect was found, the dream associations were examined for affect and valence.

Affect was found in 58.3% of dream reports. The valence of affect in dream reports became more positive during the course of treatment from 19.2% in the first manifest dream report to 53.3% in the last. The associations to the dream reports without affect had affect 94.1% of the time. Affect was present in either the dream report or the associations to it 97.9% of the time.

The positive change in affect is most likely the result of psychotherapeutic treatment, although the psychotropic medication 46% of the patients were on at the time of the last dream report and the passage of time may also be factors. The centrality of affect in dream formation and interpretation is supported if the view of the dream experience includes the associations to the dream report.

[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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