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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.

Brody, S. Axelrad, S. (1966). Anxiety, Socialization, and Ego Formation in Infancy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:218-229.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:218-229

Anxiety, Socialization, and Ego Formation in Infancy

Sylvia Brody and Sidney Axelrad

This paper is drawn from a larger work that deals with the way that anxiety emerges in and is handled by the infant, and with the consequences of these events for both the infantile ego and the ego of later life. From the larger work we take up a few issues here: mainly, the sensorimotor attainments that culminate in a series of developmental peaks during infancy, and the relationship between these developments and certain experiences to which the infant normally is exposed.

The emergence of the affect of anxiety from a matrix of physiological and psychic interrelationships during infancy is a complex and significant issue. All of our genetic formulations regarding psychological health and illness, and many dynamic formulations regarding defences, rest upon our understanding the process of this emergence. We should like to embark upon its study equipped with a knowledge of the reciprocal influences of cognition and primary process and of the nature of consciousness. We should like to have at hand some accepted classification and theory of affects. But in addition to our metapsychological theory and a great array of clinical reports, we have only a modest group of empirical findings, mainly about early evidences of ego function, to work with.

In recent times the ego has been said, more or less loosely, to be defined by its functions. The statement is useful for descriptive purposes, but it leads away from an understanding of processes involved in the development of the ego as a psychic entity.

[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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