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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.

Kornyeyeva, L. Boehnke, K. (2013). The Role of Self-Acceptance in Authoritarian Personality Formation: Reintroducing a Psychodynamic Perspective into Authoritarianism Research. Psychoanal. Psychol., 30(2):232-246.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 30(2):232-246

The Role of Self-Acceptance in Authoritarian Personality Formation: Reintroducing a Psychodynamic Perspective into Authoritarianism Research

Lena Kornyeyeva, Ph.D. and Klaus Boehnke, Ph.D.

The paper reintroduces psychodynamic considerations into the study of authoritarianism. It proposes that the experience of authoritarian socialization fosters a lack of self-acceptance, which is hypothesized to be a strong predictor of authoritarianism above and beyond the socialization experience itself. Four similarly sized subsamples of young adults with Turkish and Russian migration backgrounds, Western expatriates, and native Germans living in Germany, n = 1318 overall, were studied. Participants were asked to report the degree of authoritarianism experienced in their formative years in their family and their culture of upbringing as well as the degree of negativity of their life position as conceptualized in Transactional Analysis (TA), plus their current degree of authoritarianism. A structural equation model using a measure of low self- and other-acceptance as an additional predictor of authoritarianism is shown to explain more variance in authoritarianism than mere socialization circumstances in the Turkish and the ex-Soviet subsamples but—contrary to expectation—not in the Western samples.

[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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