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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.

Rosenbaum, R. (2011). Exploring the other Dark Continent: Parallels between Psi Phenomena and the Psychotherapeutic Process. Psychoanal. Rev., 98(1):57-90.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Review, 98(1):57-90

Exploring the other Dark Continent: Parallels between Psi Phenomena and the Psychotherapeutic Process

Ruth Rosenbaum, Ph.D.

In scientific investigation it is often the study of the anomalous, the atypical, that points the way to the discovery of deeper truths.

—Esther Menaker

This paper will explore the relevance of the subject of psi phenomena to important topics in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, such as intersubjectivity, projective identification, and the integration of primary and secondary process experience. “Psi” is a general term referring to kinds of information transfer or communication that exceed common understanding of how such communication takes place. Psi includes telepathy (mind-to-mind communication), clairvoyance (environment-to-mind communication), and psychokinesis (the capacity to influence a physical system or move an object in the absence of any known physical means of doing so).

Psi has, for the most part, been shunned as a serious topic of psychoanalytic inquiry. Upon closer examination, however, it appears to share common ground with aspects of the therapeutic bond, transference and countertransference, the intersubjective field, and integration of conscious and unconscious processes. In fact, at this critical point in the history of psychoanalysis, when the field is attempting to validate its techniques and process through evidence-based research, the search for scientific validation of psi phenomena may actually have outpaced the search for such validation of psychoanalysis. Scientific studies of psi phenomena, some of which are described here, can help to elucidate some of the more uncanny aspects of therapeutic action.

[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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