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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.

Werbart, A. Grünbaum, C. Jonasson, B. Kempe, H. Kusz, M. Linde, S. O'Nils, K.L. Sjövall, P. Svenson, M. Theve, C. Ulin, L. Öhlin, A. (2011). Changes in the Representations of Mother and Father among Young Adults in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(1):95-116.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(1):95-116

Changes in the Representations of Mother and Father among Young Adults in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Andrzej Werbart, Ph.D., Camilla Grünbaum, M.S., Britta Jonasson, M.S., Helena Kempe, M.S., Milosz Kusz, M.S., Solweig Linde, M.S., Karin Lundén O'Nils, M.S., Patrik Sjövall, M.S., Minna Svenson, M.S., Catharina Theve, M.S., Lena Ulin, M.S. and Agneta Öhlin, M.S.

The present study explores the changes in young adult patients' representations of their parents from prior to psychotherapy through long-term follow-up. Twenty-five women and 16 men from the Young Adult Psychotherapy Project (YAPP) were interviewed according to Sidney Blatt's unstructured Object Relations Inventory prior to psychoanalytic psychotherapy, at termination and at the 1.5-year follow-up, comprising 123 interviews in all. Typologies of the 246 parental descriptions were constructed by means of ideal-type analysis for male and female patients separately, and for representations of mother and father separately. The analysis resulted in 5 to 7 ideal types of mother and father representations. Prior to psychotherapy, women's representations of their fathers and men's representations of their mothers seemed most problematic. As to the content, the most common descriptions of the parent were the emotionally or physically absent parent, and the parent with his or her own problems. In most cases, the descriptions of the parent changed over time in terms of belonging to different ideal-type clusters. There were important improvements in the quality of the descriptions, and the changes continued after termination of psychotherapy. However, most of the parental representations were negative in all three interviews. The possible explanations of these findings are discussed.

[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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