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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.

Strean, H.S. (1964). The Talking Cure. By Morton M. Hunt and Rena Corman, with Louis R. Ormont. With an introduction by L. Bellak, M.D. New York: Harper and Row, 1963. pp. xii+171.. Psychoanal. Rev., 51B(2):160-161.

(1964). Psychoanalytic Review, 51B(2):160-161

The Talking Cure. By Morton M. Hunt and Rena Corman, with Louis R. Ormont. With an introduction by L. Bellak, M.D. New York: Harper and Row, 1963. pp. xii+171.

Review by:
Herbert S. Strean

When Freud and Breuer collaborated with Anna O. in the late nineteenth century in an attempt to remove a severe conversion hysteria syndrome from which Anna O. was suffering, the latter referred to the psychological assistance that she received as “the talking cure.” Through putting into words her feelings, thoughts, and memories, Anna O. was able to overcome many of her hysterical symptoms.

Although it was early in the development of psychoanalysis that an understanding of the pathological resistances inherent in hysterias and the other neuroses was achieved, the hysteria that the psychoanalytic movement activated in the lay community has far from abated. Perhaps it is more than coincidence that again we have two men and a woman collaborating to help the public overcome their hysterical reactions, phobias, and distorted perceptions of the psychoanalytic process.

The Talking Cure deals sensitively and meaningfully with what may be termed the patient's pre-analytic resistances, an area which has received only limited consideration in the literature. The early chapters, for example, discuss some facts and fallacies about psychoanalysis including the stereotypes of the analyst, psychoanalysis as the destroyer of marriage, Freud and sex, and falling in love with the analyst. The book performs a commendable service in differentiating for the reader the essential differences between psychoanalysis and other disciplines such as casework, pastoral counselling, group psychotherapy.

[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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