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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.

Vanderwees, C. (2016). Lacanian Affects: The Function of Affect in Lacan's Work by Colette Soler Translated by Bruce Fink New York: Routledge, 2016, 176 pp.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 24(1):142-145.

(2016). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 24(1):142-145

Lacanian Affects: The Function of Affect in Lacan's Work by Colette Soler Translated by Bruce Fink New York: Routledge, 2016, 176 pp.

Review by:
Chris Vanderwees

Jacques Lacan's emphasis on the signifier in psychoanalysis has led a number of scholars and analysts to contribute to the development of a relatively prevalent, essentialist misreading of his theorization of affect. Amongst psychoanalysts and other academics, this lingering misreading manifests as a critique of Lacan and his work's supposed failure to address the significance of affective dynamics in psychoanalytic treatment. Cormac Gallagher (1997) writes that Lacan's “focus on linguistics and logic is thought to lessen the importance of the affective dimension and to lead to a sterile analysis from which anger, shame, pity, indignation, envy and jealousy have been banished” (p. 111). Some of the most prominent analysts contributing to the study of affects have fostered this unfortunate perspective on Lacanian psychoanalysis. André Green (1973/1999) describes Lacanian theory as a total rejection or “forgetting” of affect. “Lacan's work,” writes Green, “is exemplary … not only because affect has no place in it, but also because it is explicitly excluded from it” (p. 99). Ruth Stein (1999) echoes Green when she accuses Lacan of excluding affect from psychoanalytic theory and of “reject[ing] affects altogether as unfit for theorizing” (p. 133). Further, Lacan's emphasis on the importance of the symbolic order is often reproached as if it were a kind of over-intellectualism that supports an opposition between affective and intellectual dimensions. It is in this light that Jean Laplanche (1999) presents his appraisal of Lacan's approach to psychoanalysis:

You do not need to read many Lacanian texts to be convinced that the Freudian distinction between affect and representation has become—in Lacanianism—a real rejection, sometimes scornful, of the affective and of lived experience, which moreover, are usually affected by signs of irony or inverted commas. (p.

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