Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
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.

de Vega, J.S. Meltzer, D. (1998). Chapter Eleven: Juan: A Constant Disappointment. Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris, 143-162.

de Vega, J.S. and Meltzer, D. (1998). Chapter Eleven: Juan: A Constant Disappointment. Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris , 143-162

Chapter Eleven: Juan: A Constant Disappointment Book Information Previous Up Next

Jesús Sánchez de Vega and Donald Meltzer

Therapist: Juan is a fifteen year old boy, strong and well developed for his age but his face has a childish air about it and his clothes and his appearance are rather unkempt. In the last academic year he was doing agricultural studies, which he failed; this year he wants to do mechanics at a different professional vocational training centre. I have been seeing him for the last ten months on Tuesdays and Thursdays, face to face. He refused to use the couch at the very beginning saying that it reminded him of assassinated Roman emperors. He is very fond of drawing so he asked me in the very first session if he could do that. We have pen and paper available but he hardly uses them now.

Tuesday Session

As I open the door he has his back to it; he turns round suddenly and pretends to shoot me, as in a Western. He is smiling.

[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.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.