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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.

Dowling, S. (1985). The Narcissistic Pursuit Of Perfection. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33S(Supplement):256-261.

(1985). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33S(Supplement):256-261

The Narcissistic Pursuit Of Perfection

Review by:
Scott Dowling, M.D.

By Arnold Rothstein. New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1980, xii + 287 pp., $30.00.

To a great extent, the continuing debate about the nature and place of narcissistic phenomena in psychological normality and pathology will only be resolved by meticulous clinical and observational study. Among the unanswered questions are the following: What is the ontogeny of the mental representation of self and object? Is there an early mental state in which there is no differentiation of self and object? In what ways, if any, are the early mental organizations of self and object retained? Are early forms of awareness of self and object influential in later life? If so, in what ways? What, if any, are the psychological links between early representations of self and object and adult attitudes of grandiosity and idealization?

These questions are not likely to be settled until we have a systematic collection and examination of relevant analytic data from both child and adult analyses—a Hampstead Index of narcissistic phenomena. We also require more detailed information from infant and toddler observation. At present, both analytic information and data from infant and toddler observation are limited in both scope and quality, though they do allow some cautious statements about early developmental issues.

Proposed theories provide frameworks for the arrangement of data. In the present heated atmosphere about this subject, a book such as Rothstein's has a valued place; his ideas pose an alternative to the well-known concepts of Heinz Kohut and Otto Kernberg.

[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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