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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.

(2018). Autorinnen und Autoren. Psyche – Z Psychoanal., 72(1):88.

(2018). Psyche – Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 72(1):88

Redaktionelle Mitteilungen

Autorinnen und Autoren

Markus Fäh, Dr. phil., Ausbildungsanalytiker der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Psychoanalyse/IPA, Psychoanalytiker, Psychotherapeut und Supervisor in eigener Praxis in Zürich. Lehrbeauftragter an der Sigmund-Freud-Privatuniversität Wien, Ausbildner an verschiedenen psychoanalytischen Instituten in Osteuropa. Arbeitsschwerpunkte: Theorie des Ödipuskomplexes, Adoleszenz, Psychoanalyse und Film, psychoanalytische Konzepte von Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit, Salutogenese.

Sylvia Schulze, Dipl.-Psych., als Psychoanalytikerin in Berlin niedergelassen, Lehranalytikerin (DPG, IPV). Jüngste Veröffentlichung (als Hg., gemeinsam mit Ingo Focke und Eckehard Pioch): Neid. Zwischen Sehnsucht und Zerstörung (Stuttgart 2017).

Alberto Stefana, klinischer Psychologe, psychoanalytischer Psychotherapeut in eigener Praxis in Brescia, Italien. Letzte Buchpublikation: History of Countertransference: From Freud to the British Object Relations School (London 2017).

Christel Böhme-Bloem, Dr. med., Psychoanalytikerin/Lehranalytikerin (DPV, IPV, DGPT), Nervenärztin und Ärztin für Psychotherapeutische Medizin. Dozentin am Michael-Balint-Institut in Hamburg und am John-Rittmeister-Institut in Kiel. Veröffentlichungen zur psychoanalytischen Konzeptbildung (Symbolisierung), zur Psychosomatik und zum Themenkreis Psychoanalyse und Musik, zuletzt: »Musik und die Werkmeister des Traums - Verdichtung und Verschiebung im Prozess der Symbolbildung und des Metaphorisierens« in dem von Sebastian Leikert und Antje Niebuhr herausgegebenen Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse und Musik (Bd. 1, 2017).

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2016 and more current articles see the publishers official website here.]

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