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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.

(1978). Obituary Notice: Alice Maurer-Poliszchzuk. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(4):365-366.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(4):365-366

Obituary Notice: Alice Maurer-Poliszchzuk

DR JOSEPH WHEELWRIGHT, a past president of the International Association of Analytical Psychology, writes:

ALICE MAURER-POLISZCHZUK is gone. Her death is a painful reminder that mortality is not an abstraction. Those of us who are old live near to death. For ourselves there is homework to do—the endless pulling back of projections on persons, places and things. And, too, the task of coming to terms with our past, with history and even evolution. But there is no homework we can do to fill the void left by the death of one we love. There is no replacement, no restitution—just loss and the recurrent pain of unexpected reminders.

Many people in the Jungian world have been only marginally aware of Alice and the central rôle she has played for the I.A.A.P. since its inception. It is really wrong to call what she did a rôle; actually she gave herself to this work body and soul. Those of you who heard Dr Adler and myself pay tribute to her at the end of each congress may have thought it was a pro forma courtesy. But, in fact, our remarks were the simple truth, and understated at that.

It was Alice alone who provided continuity from 1956 when Dr Moody and Dr Adler—among others—founded the I.A.A.P. up to Dr Guggenbühl's accession to the presidency last September. She carried a storehouse of facts in her head, and threads emanated from her in all directions. Often she initiated new things, such as the International Directory, for instance, and wrote all our letters and answered the question that had no answers.

[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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