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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.

Goldberger, M. (1994). Illness in the Analyst. Implications for the Treatment Relationship: Edited by Harvey J. Schwartz, M.D. and Ann-Louise S. Silver. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1990. 347 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:360-363.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:360-363

Illness in the Analyst. Implications for the Treatment Relationship: Edited by Harvey J. Schwartz, M.D. and Ann-Louise S. Silver. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1990. 347 pp.

Review by:
Marianne Goldberger

Parts of this book should be required reading for all analysts. The issue of illness in the analyst has hardly been dealt with in our literature, and several of these essays are remarkably helpful.

After reading the essays one can no longer deny the reality that psychoanalysts can suddenly become ill and die without any opportunity to prepare their patients. Most analysts will recognize themselves in some papers, as I did, in regard to their own tendencies toward denial and wishes for omnipotence. Very important is the suggestion made by Abraham Freedman that analysts should have a preplanned procedure for saving their patients as much grief as possible in the event of an emergency. He suggests that in a place easily found, probably the appointment book or daily log, there should be information readily available for a family member or colleague. For example, many analysts indicate their patients' names by some kind of code in their appointment books, and therefore it is essential that a decoder be easily available. Freedman also makes the point that psychoanalysts should make provision in their wills for the disposal of patient files.

The necessity for such preparations is shockingly demonstrated by Stephen Firestein's research into the fate of fifteen patients whose analyst or therapist died. The general tendency of analysts to deny the seriousness of their conditions and to rationalize delay in informing their patients was clearly shown in his study. Firestein makes the specific, very important suggestion that "as part of usual practice managment an analyst or therapist develop an understanding with two trusted friends that they will intervene if the analyst (1) shows signs of impairment in his work life; or (2) experiences sudden total incapacitation, or dies" (p. 338).

Firestein, in a separate document, has made explicit the need for a "professional will" and has proposed terms for such a will.

[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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