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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.

Slochower, H. (1981). Freud as Yahweh in Jung's Answer to Job. Am. Imago, 38(1):3-39.

(1981). American Imago, 38(1):3-39

Freud as Yahweh in Jung's Answer to Job

Harry Slochower


A Letter from Carl Jung

In the summer of 1979, in the course of moving my office, I came across some old correspondence in my files. To my puzzlement, I found a letter from C.G. Jung, dated October 20, 1955, which I did not recall having received. The letter was typed, was not signed nor addressed to me by name. Subsequently, Dr. Jung's son, Franz Jung, wrote me that he had proof that the letter was addressed to Dr. Hans Illing. Investigation has since established that this was indeed the case and that an article by Dr. Illing, entitled “Jung and the Jews,” containing most of the letter in translation, appeared in the Chicago Jewish Forum, Fall 1956.

Unaware at the time, that most of Jung's letter had appeared in translation, I wrote F. Jung for permission to publish the letter in American Imago. The letter contained statements which Jung had made elsewhere, such as that the Jews, like other ethnic groups, had their special characteristic psychology. But my reason for thinking that the letter should be published was that it contained two new and striking observations: One was his characterization of National Socialism; the other coupled this observation to Jung's study Answer To Job.

To my astonishment, F. Jung refused permission. I quote from his letter of August 14, 1979:

I agree it is C.G.J, speaking with all probability.

[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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