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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.

James, M. (1982). Autistic States in Children: By Frances Tustin. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1981. Pp. 376.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:504-514.

(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:504-514

Autistic States in Children: By Frances Tustin. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1981. Pp. 376.

Review by:
Martin James

This book is issued by a general publishing house. It is for analysts but may nevertheless prove more quickly acceptable to certain general readers whom it will not threaten. Read in a general context, Autistic States in Children can be compared with Ladurie's Montaillou, also a work of scholarship enjoyed by the non-expert.

Here in this place, a first notice for analysts, our task for Tustin's book is to summarize its argument and impact and that done, to let the material speak for itself.

First then, the argument. In a phrase, Tustin brings us a new dimension in our theory: Primary autism, she says, is a normal state in the foetus and a degree of autism normal in the baby after it has been born; Tustin, in effect, equates primary autism with the responses of physiology. She sees pathological autism as the persistence of this normal foetal style of response beyond its due time. For then it is a reminiscence from the past and hinders better adaptations that would be possible.

Autism was previously hard to place in our theory, Tustin now puts it in line with psychoanalytic thinking: The physiological processes that once served adaptive and defensive purposes become an obstruction, a nuisance to further development, so in considering autism we are seeing normal physiology prolonged beyond its time.

But what are the reactions of physiology upon which later psychological developments are built? In utero the foetus maintains its equilibrium, its homeostasis, by animal responses which are appropriate in utero but gradually get beyond their time. These foetal responses at their most complex are conditioned reflexes learned by the foetus. They affect heart-rate, movement, time awareness and so on. More simply there are basic automatic responses made by the primordial foetus; the muscle and cell irritability that starts even in the zygote, morula and blastula. The zygote is of course the first combined cell formed by union of the gametes: the sperm and the ovum. These go on to form the new-born baby.

An essential part of Tustin's argument is that this new-born has to change from intra-uterine responses to those more adequate for life outside the womb but she points out that for a few months the new baby normally tends to use the old responses and has to be helped to accept the new ones.

[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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