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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.

Eisnitz, A.J. (1974). A Discussion of the Paper by J. L. Weinberger and J. J. Muller on 'The American Icarus Revisited: Phallic Narcissism and Boredom'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:587-590.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:587-590

A Discussion of the Paper by J. L. Weinberger and J. J. Muller on 'The American Icarus Revisited: Phallic Narcissism and Boredom' Related Papers

Alan J. Eisnitz

Boredom arises when the possibility for gratification cannot be experienced. It can occur as a symptom often closely connected with depression. It also occurs as a normal state. It can arise from primarily internal sources, endogenous boredom, or for mainly external reasons, exogenous boredom. Boredom of this second type can be viewed as an affect signal that the external environment offers little promise of gratification and that change should be contemplated although not necessarily affected. Optimum functioning requires of us that we possess the capacity to continue with an activity, when necessary, in spite of boredom. Many tasks, steps towards a desired goal, are in themselves boring.

Libidinal drives appear to possess more plasticity than do the aggressive drives. Variety can be viewed as a characteristic of libidinal drive derivatives, while sameness seems to be more typical of aggressively derived activity. We can assume that the libidinal drives create a pressure for variety particularly in those areas which are more removed from direct instinctual gratification. This is true on the oral level and especially on the genital level. Even in the most constant love relationships variety is sought and even more so in the more sublimated forms of genitality. Only the anal drives, somewhat more limited in terms of anatomical and physiological effector apparatus, seem to show more sameness. This may be one reason why so many anally derived patterns are so useful in dealing with the everyday tasks of the world.

[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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