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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.

Bigras, J. (1989). ‘Re-embodiment of the disembodied eye’ The constitution of a psychoanalytic space for a schizophrenic patient. Free Associations, 1W(18):7-21.

(1989). Free Associations, 1W(18):7-21

‘Re-embodiment of the disembodied eye’ The constitution of a psychoanalytic space for a schizophrenic patient

Julien Bigras

The first modern move towards a psychotherapeutic approach to psychosis was made by Freud. The essential psychotic mechanisms — splitting of the ego, repression, projection, and the primary psychic processes — were already identified in Freud's profound knowledge of the dream-work. His insights permitted some encouraging openings towards a psychoanalytic approach to psychosis: for example, literary openings with ‘Gradiva’ (1907) and ‘The Case of Schreber(1911) and clinical ones (1937) elaborated at the end of his life in which he expressed the hope that his method would eventually be applied to psychotics. In 1937 he noted that an insufficiently investigated yet apparently general characteristic of hallucinations was the return to consciousness in distorted form of that which had been experienced very early by the child and forgotten. He observed that‘… there is not only method in madness, as the poet has already perceived, but also a fragment of historical truth; and it is plausible to suppose that the compulsive belief attaching to delusions derives its strength precisely from infantile sources of this kind’ (Freud, 1937, p. 267). This Freudian formulation could then be considered as the cornerstone of a possible therapeutic method. In short, work with psychotics would be almost the same as interpreting a dream.

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