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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.

Landauer, K. (1939). Some Remarks on the Formation of the Anal-Erotic Character. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:418-425.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:418-425

Some Remarks on the Formation of the Anal-Erotic Character

Karl Landauer

In 1908 Freud published his work on 'Character and Anal Erotism' which contains a statement that people who are exceptionally orderly, parsimonious and obstinate had as children taken a long time to control their motions and even afterwards had had to complain of isolated accidents relating to this function. Accordingly character would be something that we acquire, in exactly the same way as any other group of psychogenic symptoms, and would stand in a causal relationship with the vicissitudes of our instinctual life; the anal character would, thus, be based on a fixation during the anal phase.

This paper properly gave rise to a vast number of publications, in one group of which the original triad of anal-erotic character-traits was elaborated into a constantly expanding series of mental attributes. Ernest Jones, with his remarkable critical ability, profited by a wealth of observations drawn from the field of his own experience as well as from that of other workers to create the most satisfying picture we possess of the anal character, i.e. he has provided us with an elaborate catalogue from which those who are anal erotics by disposition or training seem to make a choice dictated by their individual experiences. Numerous other publications concerned themselves with the oral and the genital characters. But it now became apparent that the types of character supposedly associated with the separate sexual zones overlapped. What some of us rightly characterized as anal, others with equal justice attributed to oral strivings. That two diametrically opposed qualities such as parsimony and extravagance should be traceable to the same causes could be explained by the phenomenon of over-compensation. It only remained to try and complete the picture by discovering the conditions under which these qualities emerge in an individual.

[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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