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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.

Perelberg, R.J. (1996). Anthropology and Psychoanalysis: an Encounter Through Culture. : Edited by Suzette Heald and Ariane Deluz. London: Routledge. 1994. Pp. 244.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:847-850.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:847-850

Anthropology and Psychoanalysis: an Encounter Through Culture. : Edited by Suzette Heald and Ariane Deluz. London: Routledge. 1994. Pp. 244.

Review by:
Rosine Jozef Perelberg

The interrelationship between psychoanalysis and anthropology is as old as the discipline of psychoanalysis itself. Throughout his work Freud attempted to establish connections between the two disciplines in his attempt to validate the universality of his theories (especially 1911, 1921). Early in the development of social anthropology, however, the individual became excluded from the field of analysis. I suggest that this inaugurated a series of dichotomies, namely those between Nature and Culture in the French tradition, Personality and Culture in America and Right and Sentiment in the British tradition.

Durkheim inaugurated the tradition where-by ‘social facts’ should be studied as ‘things’ and should thus be perceived as independent of and external to the conceptual apparatus of both the individual and the observer. This is linked to his attempts to delineate a field of knowledge opposed to psychology and biology. Several dichotomies, such as those between social/individual, moral rules/sensual appetites, concepts/sensations, sacred/profane and normal/pathological, are derived from this framework.

In England, since in his analysis of the ‘familiar complex’ among the Trobriand Islanders Malinowski claimed that the fundamental opposition in this society was between ‘mother right’ and ‘father love’, the British tradition in anthropology has been trapped in a debate between ‘rights’ against ‘sentiments’ and the systems whereby these are transmitted along different lines in traditional societies.

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