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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.

List of Articles

Volume 20 (1994)

Issue 1 - Special Edition: Autism
Editorial  1
The Perpetuation of an Error  3
Frances Tustin
Autistic Breathing  25
Maria Rhode
From Confusional Entanglement to Sense of Self: Aetiology, Thinking and Process in Work with an Autistic Boy  43
Carol Hughes
Towards Solid Ground: The Ongoing Psychotherapeutic Journey of an Adolescent Boy with Autistic Features  57
Judith Edwards
Autism: A Family Affair?  85
Averil Earnshaw
Autistic Children Who Are Assessed as Not Brain-Damaged  103
Frances Tustin
Anne Alvarez Live Company: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children, London and New York: Tavistock/Routledge, 1992 £14.99 paperback  133
Victoria Hamilton
Issue 2
Editorial  147
Early Aspects of Mothering: What Makes it so Hard to Be There to Be Left  149
Erna Furman
On Seeing and Not Seeing  165
Sylvia Wilson
The Child Behind the Label: The Anti-Social Child  185
Sira Dermen
Further Considerations of Methodology for Evaluating Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Children: Reflections in the Light of Research Experience  205
Mary Boston and Dora Lush
Parental Intercourse — The Official Secret Act: Trying Not to Think About Sex in Adolescence  231
Paul Van Heeswyk
Psychic Diffusion and Captive Minds: The Possibilities for and Limitations of Therapy with Children of Invasive Mothers  243
Lynda Ellis
Janet Sayers Mothering Psychoanalysis London: Penguin 1991 £6.99Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Freud on Women, London: Hogarth Press 1990 £20.  267
Christopher Reeves
Beta Copley, The World of Adolescence: Literature, Society and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, London: Free Association Books, 1993, £17.95.  272
Margot Waddell
Issue 3
Editorial  281
Sexuality and Violence: Preliminary Clinical Hypotheses from Psychotherapeutic Assessments in a Research Programme on Young Sexual Offenders  283
Jill Hodges, Monica Lanyado and Chriso Andreou
Breaching the Shame Shield: Thoughts on the Assessment of Adolescent Child Sexual Abusers  309
Donald Campbell
Deintegration: The Gate to Development  327
Jane Bunster
Learning to Think in a ‘War Zone’  343
Deborah Hindle
Case History of Farida: A Year of Psychotherapy with a Girl Who Said She Was Sexually Abused  359
Sheena Grünberg
J.-B. Pontalis (translated by James Greene with Marie-Christine Reguis) Love of Beginnings, London: Free Association Books, 1993 £13.95, 171 pp.  389
Viviane Green
Paul V. Trad Short-term Parent—Infant Psychotherapy, New York: Basic Books, 1993, hardback, 350 pp.  391
Lisa Miller
Valerie Sinason, Understanding Your Handicapped Child, London: Tavistock/Rosendale Press, 1993, £4.99 paperback.  393
Sylvia Wilson
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