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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.

Lefer, J. (2015). Facing Cancer and the Fear of Death, by Norman Straker, Jason Aronson, New York, 2013, 156 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 43(4):682-685.

(2015). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43(4):682-685

Facing Cancer and the Fear of Death, by Norman Straker, Jason Aronson, New York, 2013, 156 pp.

Review by:
Jay Lefer, M.D.

This “must read” book containing clinical monographs and therapeutic techniques for working with patients dying of cancer, is two books in one: a paradigm and a system of psychoanalytic approaches when facing a patient dying of cancer. The clinical chapters place the psychodynamic psychiatrist into an interpersonal dome that balances participation and observation. The “surgical,” classical psychoanalytic system does not work with patients living within the existential anxiety and terror of facing death.

Straker, a psychoanalyst at the bedside (Lefer, 2006), writes that “reports of treatments of dying patients by psychoanalysts are very limited in psychoanalytic literature.” The patient is living in the present; past and future time is no longer objective time. The patient is living in subjective time and the “here and now.” The analyst needs to be “flexible.” The goal is terror management.

I recalled listening to a paper given by Jacob Arlow. While treating an internist, Arlow had suffered a myocardial infarction. When he fell to the floor, the internist diagnosed his condition and called for an ambulance. While riding in the ambulance, Arlow said to himself that this experience would make an excellent paper. He studied his own dissociation from the events. The conclusion of the paper was that his experience with a near death event spoiled the transference. Dr. Theodore Lidz was in the audience and exclaimed, “Dr.

[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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