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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.

Compton, A. (1988). Psychoanalytic Cure. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(2):217-229.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(2):217-229

Psychoanalytic Cure

Allan Compton, M.D.

Psychoanalysts have recently become more concerned with specifying what we have to offer that is distinct and valuable in the treatment of mental illness. In doing so we are inspecting our data and the relation between data and theory more carefully, and resorting less to authority or charisma as the final arbiter of correct procedure. The present panel is a contribution to this trend.

There are two questions we were asked to address on this panel: (1) What is it that changes in the course of what we would regard as a successful analysis? (2) What are the essential aspects of the treatment that are conducive to such change?

The change that interests us occurs in the mind of the patient. Those aspects of the patient's mental functioning that produce in the patient a feeling of being ill are to be altered in a way such that the feeling of illness no longer exists. In addition, those aspects of the patient's functioning that are not at the outset experienced by the patient as illness but that are nevertheless pathological—meaning, essentially, maladaptive—are, so far as possible, to be brought into the focus of the treatment (to the extent the maladaptive behaviors become a concern to the patient) and then into the process of change.

What changes in the course of a successful analysis? The theories of causation that have been developed in psychoanalysis, and on which the treatment procedure is based, are theories of the mind. Mind is a function of the brain (Brenner, 1982; Reiser, 1984).

[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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