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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.

Haimovich, S.S. (2001). The First Hundred Years of Psychoanalysis: A Century of Internal Resistance. Free Associations, 8(4):576-590.

(2001). Free Associations, 8(4):576-590

The First Hundred Years of Psychoanalysis: A Century of Internal Resistance

Saul S. Haimovich

My aim in this paper is to show the strong resistance to the empirical application of Freudian research principles, especially of the ‘fundamental rule’ for the discovery of the unconscious, that marks the first hundred years of psychoanalysis. Research by means of free association is deeply rooted in Freud's concept of the unconscious as a realm in which logical rules are not valid. Though it is not possible to reach a full reconstruction of the unconscious by conscious means, free association allows the nearest approximation.

Below I offer a comparative analysis of the main aspects of traditional psychoanalysis - social, educational, theoretical and technical - as they developed in the hundred years after the publication of The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud, 1901) and the beginnings of the psychoanalytic movement (1902). I will examine these to find out if, in their present form, they allow the application of the analytical method. My assumption is that if such application is impossible and free association processes in personal analysis are even obstructed, then psychoanalysis as it is being practiced now is driven by defensive needs.

[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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