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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. (1977). A Note on the Treatment of the Schizophrenic Patient. Psychoanal. Rev., 64(2):203-210.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Review, 64(2):203-210

A Note on the Treatment of the Schizophrenic Patient

Herbert S. Strean, D.S.W.

For over two decades I have been actively engaged in the treatment of and research on the schizophrenic patient. Like most practitioners and practice theorists, I have not only given much thought to the etiology of the schizophrenic process but have constantly modified my therapeutic orientation and therapeutic posture when clinical experience and clinical research have warranted alterations.

Over the years I have come to view psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic technique as a constantly evolving set of procedures, rooted in theory and influenced by a growing body of clinical experience. Therapists, I believe, develop greater precision, discipline, and finesse in their work as their personal experience expands. As Waldhorn recently stated,

The limitless diversity of our patients' productions, the absolute uniqueness of each individual's life and of each moment in time, make standardization of technique an impossibility and rigidity of style a handicap…. The avoidance of mistaken emphases and of undue preoccupation with any one aspect of analytic material over all others is a vital part of the self-critical, self-observant and selfenriching responsibility of the analyst.8

The enormous literature on schizophrenia so far seems to indicate that no one specific etiological factor can fully account for the process. As Spotnitz has noted, “A biologically inherited disposition for the illness seems to be of some importance, combined with constitutional and experiental factors.”5


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