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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.

(1959). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 1956: William G. Niederland, M.D. (New York). 'Clinical Observations on the "Little Man" Phenomenon.' Pp. 381–395.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:77.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 1956: William G. Niederland, M.D. (New York). 'Clinical Observations on the "Little Man" Phenomenon.' Pp. 381–395.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:77

The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 19561: William G. Niederland, M.D. (New York). 'Clinical Observations on the "Little Man" Phenomenon.' Pp. 381–395.

The author describes and reviews case material from two analyses in further elucidation of the 'Little Man' phenomenon representing an isolated segment of the ego (Kramer, 1955). The phenomenon seems to follow and compensate for the loss of infantile omnipotence by the erection of a magical separate structure in the ego which still remains ego-syntonic. In one case 'the dwarf', an angry creature without bone or muscle, ugly, deformed, dirty, and big-headed, represented the patient functioning as a shady and successful business man identified with Alberich of the Niebelungenlied. Living within the patient's anus, the dwarf stood for his triumph over the threat of castration and a safeguard against it. The patient had suffered severe nutritional disturbances and, following rickets, had defective bone structure in the chest and head. As a child his head seemed overlarge. He identified with animals he had seen slaughtered in an abattoir and had observed excreting in the death throes. The retention of the dwarf in his anus represented an assurance against death.

A second patient, who experienced a thoracic deformity as 'a hole in the middle of his body', defended himself with the help of an amoeba fantasy which allowed him to withdraw his pseudopods at will, recreate them again, and to encapsulate himself so as practically to disappear. Isolated character qualities corresponded to this fantasy. This patient also suffered from infantile diarrhoea in which his body seemed to melt away. The amoeba fantasy, a variant and perhaps a forerunner of the 'little man', defended against the dreaded sensation of bodily dissolution. In both patients reality testing was intact except at such time as the 'dwarf' and 'amoeba' segments took over. In contrast to the Schreber case they functioned therefore in a non-psychotic way. Essentially traumatic in origin, they formed part of severe character disorders and can be viewed as an attempt to perpetuate infantile omnipotence and as a special solution of the castration threat.


1 Published by International Universities Press, New York, and Imago Publishing Co., London.

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Article Citation

(1959). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 19561. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:77

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