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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.

Eisold, K. (1996). Psychoanalysis today: implications for organizational applications. Free Associations, 6(2):174-191.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(2):174-191


Psychoanalysis today: implications for organizational applications

Kenneth Eisold

The idea for this paper came out of last year's meeting in Chicago. I was struck by a gap between the use of psychoanalytic theories applied to organizations and the actual experience of being a practicing psychoanalyst, at least my experience. Concepts like psychic structure (id, ego and superego) or drives or regression seemed to be applied with a kind of confidence and certainty about their meaning that, frankly, always eluded me in the consulting room but also increasingly, to my mind, seemed outdated in the dialogues among my psychoanalytic colleagues in which I engage. It seemed timely—and possibly even useful—to attempt to speak about this gap.

I should make clear at the start that this paper comes from my experience, which is of course an American one. The issues may look somewhat different over here, and I am sure that any English or continental psychoanalyst would cite different texts and emphasize different points. But that being said, I feel there is sufficient commonality to warrant this effort.

The gap I experienced last year between my clinical practice and the application of psychoanalytic concepts to organizations could be viewed dynamically as a projective process occuring within our own organization. The authority of psychoanalysis is established and reaffirmed at the price of reifying and idealizing it.

[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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