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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.

Mann, G. (2020). Prologue: Beyond the Consulting Room — Psychoanalysis Within the Social Sphere in Israel. Psychoanal. Inq., 40(7):463-466.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40(7):463-466

Prologue: Beyond the Consulting Room — Psychoanalysis Within the Social Sphere in Israel

Gabriela Mann, Ph.D.

It is well known that Israel was established in traumatic circumstances. Israel’s heterogeneous population adds to the complexity of trauma. There are Ashkenazi Jews, most of them offspring of parents who were persecuted during WWII in Europe and survived, sometimes barely, the Shoah. There are Eastern Jews, who are mainly offspring of Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries, also after being persecuted in their countries of origin after the establishment of the state of Israel. There are Israeli Palestinians, or Israeli Arabs, who are offspring of Palestinians who lived in Palestine before 1948. These Palestinian families in Israel today were not among those forced out in Israel’s war of independence in 1948 and also chose not to flee. Some are Muslims; others are Christians or Druze. There are over a million Russian Jews who immigrated or whose parents immigrated to Israel from the USSR and from the Russian Federation. Other groups, even though smaller, are the Ethiopians, who were moved to Israel by the government in two immigration waves (between the years 1979 and 1990), and Bedouin Arabs. Finally, there are many Palestinians who live under the Israeli occupation. On another dimension, there are religious Jewish populations and secular Jewish populations. A cultural and economic gap divides these populations. Overall, Israel has a highly heterogeneous population that consists mostly of families with traumatic backgrounds.

For years, there was an invisible barrier between the different groups.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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