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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.

Deutsch, J.W. (2009). The Toronto Group. Neuropsychoanalysis, 11(2):248-248.

(2009). Neuropsychoanalysis, 11(2):248-248

The Toronto Group

James W. Deutsch

The Toronto Group continued its efforts to grapple with the complex task of thinking “neuropsychoanalytically.” We focused on case material to address some of the fundamental challenges facing society: living and dying, aggression, violence, and war.

Ceilidh Eaton Russell presented moving vignettes of her work with children who are dying of brain cancer. Efforts are made to support, to the extent possible, a lively engagement with the remainder of life by promoting a sense of active agency employing effective communication with the significant adults in a child's life. This involves inventiveness, especially with children with brainstem tumors that profoundly affect their ability to speak and to accomplish motor tasks, and the ability on the part of professionals to bear difficult affects. Computer-based tools helped with the child's ambiguous efforts to communicate, in effect augmenting the body ego. Parents and siblings were helped to interpret their child's waning signals, promoting healthy mastery in the final days and the ability to move on with their lives.

Programs that support family denial may result from countertransference responses on the part of professionals. The Group struggled with the tendency to reduce to a deficit, neuro-anatomical point of view. Shame, helplessness, nonverbalized aggression within families, and regression to egocentric and magical thinking work against the psychoanalytic perspective (e.g., Furman, 1974).

Dr. Jim Deutsch discussed three children with epilepsy where aggression was the primary identified issue.

[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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