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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.

Kovel, J. (1984). On Being a Marxist Psychoanalyst (and a Psychoanalytic Marxist). Free Associations, 1(Pilot):149-154.

(1984). Free Associations, 1(Pilot):149-154

On Being a Marxist Psychoanalyst (and a Psychoanalytic Marxist)

Joel Kovel

It is a dubious distinction, but I am probably the only officially graduated practitioner of classical Freudian psychoanalysis in the United States who is also a Marxist — at least in my generation, and at least of ‘my kind of Marxism’. There is another analyst about my age who espouses Soviet-style Marxism, and is, I think, a member of the Communist Party of the USA. We are on friendly terms but don't have much to do with each other. Then, of course, there are other sorts of psychoanalysts who call themselves one kind of Marxist or another, along with progressives who are psychoanalytically inclined but not, so to speak, fully trained. There are many ways to slice these things, and not much point in doing so. What counts is that there is in no sense any coherent movement of Freudo-Marxists in the United States who practice psychoanalysis or even psychotherapy along psychoanalytic lines. There have been a number of attempts during the past decade to launch one by pulling together like-minded people. A few years ago, one such venture in New York seemed to be getting off the ground. But it suffered from egoism and careerism; intra-group squabbling ensued, and the project sputtered and crashed. It survives now mainly as a psychotherapy group-practice in Greenwich Village.

Contrast this with the standard, apolitical practice of psychotherapy (and psychoanalysis) in the United States. Now, everybody knows that bourgeois psychoanalysis is washed up and basically good for nothing except satire.

[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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