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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.

Aguillaume, R. (1993). Explicit and Hidden Objectives of the Process of Training Psychoanalysts. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 2(1):44-46.

(1993). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 2(1):44-46

Explicit and Hidden Objectives of the Process of Training Psychoanalysts

Romulo Aguillaume, M.D.

To reflect upon psychoanalytical training is to return once more to an ever-present problem. Once again we must question didactic analysis, its characteristics and purposes, the place of Psychoanalysis in society, the psychoanalysis establishment and how it relates to society, and so on. A science “invented by an autodidact” (1), which in 1910 was already pointing to the need for didactic analysis and by 1920, in Vienna and Berlin, had established the first training system, has now become a welter of institutions, theoretical models and barely-comprehensible methods. Another factor to be taken into account when considering psychoanalytical training is that Psychoanalysis is now accepted by society and is present in universities, hospitals, social security, etc. What was once a marginal profession, unrecognized by official institutions, has now attained a status wherein its specific identity is lost within the general concept of psychotherapy.

In this brief space I should like to discuss only two of the many relevant factors. Firstly, the need to maintain a degree of detachment (or “extra-terriotoriality”) (2) in psychoanalytical practice; and secondly the tendency towards enshrinement of the analytical standards. Both aspects point to the need to maintain the specific character of psychoanalytical discourse.

All psychoanalytical societies seem to share the view that didactic analysis is the key element in analytical training, or even the sole means of acquiring psychoanalytical knowledge.

[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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