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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.

Katan, M. (1952). Further Remarks about Schreber's Hallucinations. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:429-432.

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:429-432

Further Remarks about Schreber's Hallucinations

M. Katan, M.D.

This paper is a sequel to one which I read two years ago at the Congress in Zürich (Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 31, 1950). Let me state some of the conclusions reached in that first paper before commencing my present one.

Schreber, in the period preceding his psychotic delusional state, tried to ward off the demands of his unconscious homosexual urge. Yet one night his defences broke down and he experienced an outburst of six emissions. The castration danger involved in these orgasms caused him to sever his relations with reality, whereupon his psychosis began.

It should not be assumed that Schreber's contact with reality was now completely broken. A large part of his personality still remained in contact with reality. Only if a danger arises with which the ego cannot cope by reality means is contact with reality relinquished and a psychotic symptom formed instead.

During the early stage of Schreber's psychosis, every time that the non -psychotic part of his personality anticipated a situation in which his homosexual feelings would gain the upper hand and would lead to an orgasm, his ego did not wait until such a situation had fully developed, but set up an interference. With regard to the complicated process which then followed and which I have described in my previous paper, I wish to emphasize only that the cathexis of the dangerous homosexual urge is withdrawn and that this withdrawn energy is used in forming the hallucination. In this psychotic process a very primitive form of projection is employed.

[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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