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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.

Mann, D. (1995). On Freud's “Observations on Transference Love” Edited by Ethel Spector Person, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, 194 pages. £17.50. Free Associations, 5(4):571-574.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(4):571-574

On Freud's “Observations on Transference Love” Edited by Ethel Spector Person, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, 194 pages. £17.50

Review by:
David Mann

This book is the third in the series “Contemporary Freud: Turning Points and Critical Issues.” Its publication is timely given current public and professional debate about sexual relationships between analysts and their clients.

The volume contains a reprint of Freud's paper on transference love. Ten eminent analysts from around the world have contributed articles taking Freud's paper as the focus of their discussion. As one would expect in a book of this nature, the articles are not all equal in their interest.

The background to Freud's original paper, published in 1915, was the mounting professional and public concern about sexual ethics in psychoanalysis. Freud was propelled into writing this paper partly in response to Jung's affair with his client, Sabrina Spielrein, and partly as a result of even greater concern about Ferenczi's “experiments” with psychoanalytic techniques. A number of contributions draw attention to Freud's motivation in this respect.

In her introduction, the editor highlights the widespread power and threat which has always existed in psychoanalysis concerning transference love. I think it is safe to say that this power and threat is apparent in all the articles in this book in varying degrees of intensity. This is clear in how some of the authors write about the subject: transference love is a hot and passionate phenomenon and by definition is an interesting subject.

[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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