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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.

Etchegoyen, H.R. Zysman, S. (2005). Melanie Klein in Buenos Aires: Beginnings and developments. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(3):869-894.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(3):869-894

Melanie Klein in Buenos Aires: Beginnings and developments

Horacio R. Etchegoyen and Samuel Zysman

In the first decades of the 20th century, Freud was known and quoted in Latin America by an elite of enlightened minds. In the 1940s a convergence took place in Buenos Aires of European exiles with local pioneers, and thus the Argentine Psychoanalytical Association was founded in 1942. Since then psychoanalysis has grown steadily and has spread into hospitals and universities, influencing culture at large. The socioeconomic situation of that time permitted this phenomenon to develop, to the astonishment of observers. In this paper the authors study the strong influence of Kleinian thought during the first 30 years of this development. The original works of local thinkers constitute the intellectual capital that sustains the idea of an ‘Argentine psychoanalytic school’. During the 1970s, both society and psychoanalysis endured deep and complex changes. Lacan's teachings gained support and Klein's influence began to decline. At present the Buenos Aires Kleinians keep working, while their relationship with Lacanians and other schools is calmer. Respectful discussions became thus possible, oriented to strictly scientific differences.

[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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