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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.

Ramsden, S. (1995). Rita V. Frankiel (ed.) Essential Papers on Object Loss, New York & London: New York University Press, 1994 547 pp. £20.. J. Child Psychother., 21(2):285-289.

(1995). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 21(2):285-289

Rita V. Frankiel (ed.) Essential Papers on Object Loss, New York & London: New York University Press, 1994 547 pp. £20.

Review by:
Sandra Ramsden

‘Why is death longer than life?’ a 5-year-old boy, developing normally, asked his mother in the course of discussion about the circumstances of his grandfather's death before his birth. A question so simple and profound, related by the mother to this reviewer, touching the essentials of the human condition, encapsulates the topic of this collection of psychoanalytic papers, a topic at the heart of psychoanalytic theory and practice.

This is an ambitious volume, a collection whose declared aim is to bring together ‘the most significant contributions to psychoanalytic and psychological understanding of the effect of object loss on adults and children’. It aspires to lead to more focused attention in clinical work and teaching through this exploration of psychoanalytic works spanning eighty years (the earliest paper included is by Karl Abraham, 1911), a collection which examines not only fundamental distinctions between mourning and depression but the traumas occasioned by object loss, its nature, its characteristics and the obstacles to attachment that may be sequelae. Twenty-seven papers are grouped here in seven sections. Introductory notes by the editor, Rita V. Frankiel, are included and appear as introductions to individual papers, to groups of papers or to the separate sections.

This is a well-produced book and each individual paper has a full and accurate bibliography or a set of references (some of which are numbered, some not). In addition, at the end of the volume there appears a set of editor's references, and, also grouped in relation to the sections of the book, a set of highly recommended readings.

[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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