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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.

McDougall, J. (1996). Un Bouclier Dans L'Economie Des Etats Limites: L'Espoir, Collection: Le Fait Psychanalytique. By Anna Potamianou. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992, 160 pp., FF. 128.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:1295-1298.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:1295-1298

Un Bouclier Dans L'Economie Des Etats Limites: L'Espoir, Collection: Le Fait Psychanalytique. By Anna Potamianou. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992, 160 pp., FF. 128.

Review by:
Joyce McDougall

This fine psychoanalytical work, written by one of Greece's leading psychoanalytic thinkers, is centered on the dynamic meaning and psychic economy of so-called borderline patients. Potamianou's many years of research have led her to be interested in the capacity of borderline individuals to invest relationships with meaning and, more particularly, in their fragile tendency to sudden disinvestment of significant object relations. The reader is led to reflect on the complex psychic structure of borderline patients, particularly when neurotic defenses appear to be an important part of the overall clinical picture.

This type of patient is the focus of Potamianou's latest book. She seeks to demonstrate the way in which the analytic situation can be structured in order to prevent serious regression and the profound disinvestment of internal or external reality to which these patients are particularly liable. An important characteristic of these analysands is their extreme narcissistic vulnerability, frequently allied with a grandiose self-image and fantasies of omnipotence. Although their narcissistic pathology does not lead to a profound disorganization of the ego, one can observe different forms of fragility in the ego structure. The author points out that extreme expressions of the underlying pathology frequently come to light in the course of the analytic process. The important factor here is the revelation that severe psychic pathology is frequently masked by the manifest neurotic symptoms.

[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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