Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
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.

Drinka, G.F. (2006). The Invention Of Hysteria: Charcot And The Photographic Iconography of the Salpêtrière. By Georges Didi-Huberman. Translated by Alisa Hartz. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003, 373 pp., $40.00 hardcover, $19.95 paperback.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 54(1):291-298.

(2006). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 54(1):291-298

The Invention Of Hysteria: Charcot And The Photographic Iconography of the Salpêtrière. By Georges Didi-Huberman. Translated by Alisa Hartz. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003, 373 pp., $40.00 hardcover, $19.95 paperback.

Review by:
George Frederick Drinka

In his younger years, the newly minted Viennese physician Sigmund Freud sojourned for a time in Paris. The allure of the most luminous intellectual and artistic capital on the European continent in the so-called Belle Époque notwithstanding, Freud was drawn there really in order to stand in the shadows of the most preeminent neurologist and protopsychiatrist of his time, Jean-Martin Charcot. This Parisian physician's work with neuropsychiatric conditions and procedures at an ancient hospital, the Salpêtrière, had caught headlines in the medical world and the imaginations of many young physicians. Especially his delving into the conditions known simply as hysteria and his use of the riveting technique of hypnosis for this purpose had made the man a cause célébre throughout much of the Western world. It is no surprise, then, that the first substantial publication by Freud would be titled Studies on Hysteria (Breuer and Freud 1895) and that later he would name his firstborn son Jean-Martin.

[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.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.