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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.

Ross, J.M. (1997). Boundaries And Boundary Violations. By Glen 0. Gabbard and Eva P. Lester. New York: Basic Books, 1996, 223 pp., $37.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1349-1357.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1349-1357

Boundaries And Boundary Violations. By Glen 0. Gabbard and Eva P. Lester. New York: Basic Books, 1996, 223 pp., $37.00.

Review by:
John Munder Ross

We psychoanalysts have not had an easy time contending with the spectre of boundary violations haunting our discipline from its inception. Sexual transgressions within the sanctity of the psychoanalytic situation have represented—for practitioners and the institutions that train and govern them—a form of incest. A violation, that is, not only of a professional contract but also, by virtue of the transference, of the elemental taboo that is the guarantor of morality and of the civilization that depends on it. Like incest, boundary violations frighten and amaze us.

When it comes to such threats to the “conscience of the analysis,” we have succumbed to the same resistances on which it is our job to cast an unflinching gaze. Like incest between parents and children, sex between analyst and patient has been, for most analysts for many years, quite simply “unthinkable.” And like those infantile “wishes forced upon us by nature and repugnant to morality,” to which Freud (1900) first alluded in his initial discussion of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in the dream book, unhallowed temptations in the consulting room—the analyst's erotic countertransference feelings—have tended to be subject to ready and energetic suppression and subsequent repression.

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