Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
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.

Widlöcher, D. (2002). Presidential Address. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(1):205-210.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(1):205-210

Presidential Address

Daniel Widlöcher

A person who was a complete stranger to psychoanalysis (not a frequent case) was invited to our Congress. He was astonished by everything he heard.

How can so much be said in such a short time? And how can there be so many new ideas just two years after the last Congress?

One of our female colleagues, rich in experience, was not slow to reply:

That's nothing. Bear in mind that in the meantime all the people you have heard have taken part in numerous colloquia and that they meet colleagues and trainees in their Societies every week for seminars, workshops and lectures.

All that is, no doubt, what has been talked about during these last few days. They have been able to submit their work to the judgement of their foreign colleagues, and find out about the work of those colleagues.

I am afraid that in many cases their main concern has been to be listened to rather than to listen to others.

That is hardly a misrepresentation. For example, we devoted the Congress at Santiago in 1999 to the question of affect. Reports, presentations and summaries of the ‘panels’ were published. If our naive visitor had asked us how much that was new had been said on such an essential question we should have had some difficulty in giving a clear reply. Yet that would not have done us justice, as the Congress did give rise to very rich and topical reflections. The question I would like to ask is therefore the following: how and why do psychoanalysts have so much difficulty in debating among themselves, in clearly expressing their different points of view, the reasons for these differences and the conclusions we might draw for our practice?

In an article titled Towards an international dialogue: North American reflections on the Santiago Congress Henry Smith, who was one of the co-presidents of the Programme Committee, records his surprise when, expecting to share a common language with the other participants, he discovered their language to be an endless succession of tribal dialects (Smith, 2000, p.

[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.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.