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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. (1969). Psychotherapy with Children of Psychotherapists. Psychoanal. Rev., 56C(3):377-386.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56C(3):377-386

Psychotherapy with Children of Psychotherapists

Herbert S. Strean, D.S.W.

An occurrence transpiring almost daily in the offices of family agencies, mental hygiene clinics, child guidance centers, and private practitioners is the phenomenon of psychotherapists who enact the roles of patients and clients. Despite the fact that, since the inception of the practice of psychotherapy, the notion that “therapists are people, too” has been held to be virtually axiomatic, there is a paucity of published data on what occurs when the psychotherapist and/or members of his family are recipients of professional therapeutic services. The issue of “confidentiality” may certainly be a factor in our lack of literature on the subject; however, we have been trained to edit documents so that the patient's privacy can be insured. The lack of explication and dearth of literature on the participation of professionals in treatment exists within several disciplines, such as in psychoanalysis, psychology, and psychiatry, and even the “didactic” or “training analysis” has received little written systematic exploration despite its ubiquity in psychoanalytic training institutes.1

It is reasonable to infer that when cases reported on specified groups, our diagnostic acumen can often be enhanced and our therapeutic armamentarium enriched. With the recent buttressing of our professional knowledge by the social and behavioral sciences, we have become more sensitive to the dominant values of certain subcultures and ethnic groups. Consequently, when therapeutic intervention occurs, the folkways and mores which affect such areas as child rearing and marital relationships have become part of the treatment plan.3,

[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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