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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.

Tansey, M.J. Burke, W.F. (1994). Transcending Interactional Tension: Commentary on Steven Stern's “Needed Relationships”. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(3):349-352.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(3):349-352

Transcending Interactional Tension: Commentary on Steven Stern's “Needed Relationships” Related Papers

Michael J. Tansey, Ph.D. and Walter F. Burke, Ph.D.

Steven Stern has proposed an integration of what Mitchell (1988) has labeled the relational-conflict perspective (Stern's Paradigm I) and the developmental-arrest perspective (Stern's Paradigm II). Although his undertaking is a laudable effort in which we share an interest (Tansey and Burke, 1989; Burke and Tansey, 1991), we find ourselves in strong disagreement with both the theoretical and technical implications underlying his argument. We focus our objections on three main points: his distinctions between “needed” versus “repeated” relational patterns; his extension of the concept of projective identification; and his conceptualization of his “true integration.”

Our clinical experience has led us toward an ever-increasing appreciation for the complexity of the therapeutic exchange and the simultaneity of “needed” and “repeated” dimensions of the therapeutic relationship. Although Stern mentions an “interweaving” in passing several times, fundamental to his argument is a sharp dichotomy between old, pathogenic, inauthentic, repeated therapeutic relationships requiring “mastery” and “transcendence” on the part of the analyst and new, healthy, authentic, needed therapeutic relationships that the therapist must strive to provide. In a clinical example used to illustrate his understanding of the “complex interweaving,” he describes his patient as alternating between an “unappealingly needy and whiny” presentation and one that is “appealingly vulnerable, forthright, and expressive.”

[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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