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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.

(1925). British Psycho-Analytical Society. Bul. Int. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:359-362.

(1925). Bulletin of the International Psycho-Analytic Association, 6:359-362

British Psycho-Analytical Society

First Quarter, 1925

January 7, 1925. Discussion on Miss Searl's paper, given at the last meeting, entitled 'A Question of Technique in Child-Analysis in Relation to the Oedipus Complex'.

Mrs. Riviere remarked that the inherited incest-prohibition arose originally from the impossibility of indulging Oedipus wishes without exposing the self to danger of death, i.e. from a self-preservative impulse within the individual, and not from any 'civilizing' tendency or disposition; it is therefore an introjection of this impossibility (of a state of things existing in reality) into the mind. This danger of death if Oedipus wishes are allowed to remain in consciousness or come into consciousness no longer exists; the original motive for repression is thus no longer valid.

The strength of inherited inhibitions is sufficient to ensure a moderate degree of control of the Oedipus wishes, which is the desideratum for normal development. The creation of an unduly strict or severe super-ego, evolved by a too extensive transmutation of repressed or undischarged parental object-cathexes into identifications, will be avoided by a sufficient degree of maintenance of these object-cathexes in consciousness, enabling them to be discharged and sublimated as such. But both these results depend on a normal environment for the child. Where the parents permit too great a discharge of Oedipus-libido, or encourage the creation of too severe a super-ego by favouring too heavy repression, the proper balance is likely to be difficult for the analyst to secure; in this quarter the true difficulties in the analysis of children are probably to be found, and not in any theoretical or inherent obstacle to it.

Dr. Ernest Jones distinguished between the possibility and the desirability of making the child aware of the full implications of the Oedipus complex during infancy. He considered the former question had been answered in the affirmative, and he knew of no reason why the latter should not also be so answered. He could not agree with the distinctions Miss Searl had drawn between infant and adult, for all the distinguishing points she mentioned were equally valid, particularly for the neurotic adult.

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