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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.

Sugarman, A. (1994). Toward Helping Child Analysands Observe Mental Functioning. Psychoanal. Psychol., 11(3):329-339.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 11(3):329-339

Toward Helping Child Analysands Observe Mental Functioning

Alan Sugarman, Ph.D.

Modern-day literature on classical psychoanalytic technique has emphasized developing the technical implications of the structural model. Such implications involve expanding the control of the conscious ego over other structures of the psyche. In particular, classical analysts now emphasize helping the patient to become aware of and gain control over current-day intrapsychic conflicts that cause symptoms and character problems. The work of Paul Gray has been of particular importance in this resurgence of classical technical writings. In this article, I apply Gray's work to child analytic technique and suggest ways that his approach may prove useful in the difficult task of helping child patients to gain insight. A case of a preadolescent boy is presented as a heuristic example of how one might go about analyzing the child's defensive use of superego functions in the way that I understand Gray to suggest. It is hoped that such an example can further attempts both to understand the nature of the child analytic process and to clarify further the technical implications of modern-day classical thinking.

[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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