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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.

Stojkovic, M. (2016). Finding your way with your baby: the emotional life of parents and babies. J. Child Psychother., 42(1):82-85.

(2016). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 42(1):82-85

Book reviews

Finding your way with your baby: the emotional life of parents and babies

Marija Stojkovic

‘Why another baby book?’ This is how Dylis Daws and Alexandra de Rementeria start their introduction. Indeed, it seems that today, more than ever, there are an overwhelming number of books aimed at helping new parents care for their baby. Finding Your Way with Your Baby seems to be a bit different in that the authors state at the beginning that they will not tell parents what to do. Instead, they speak to the complexities inherent in the experience of becoming a parent. They emphasise the importance of not knowing (as well as knowing), of wondering, of being curious, of observing the baby, getting to know her/him and of reflecting upon what is seen, felt and thought. I wondered whether this urging of parents to engage in thinking and reflecting upon their experiences could actually be advice. New parents may feel that this is easier said than done and, as the authors say, they often want and need clear answers and advice on how to deal with particular issues in relation to their baby. I believe that many parents will find answers to their questions in this book as it covers an enormous range of possible scenarios they may encounter during the first year of their baby’s life. These are all placed in the context of parents’ relationship with each other, with their baby and with the wider social context, so that it really offers a comprehensive ‘guide’ to parents in discovering and navigating the ‘new territory’ of their experience, indeed to ‘finding their own way with their baby’.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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