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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.

Cimino, C. Correale, A. (2005). Reply to Dr Schwaber. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(3):901.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(3):901

Reply to Dr Schwaber Related Papers

Cristiana Cimino and Antonello Correale

We would like to thank Dr Schwaber for the observations on our paper. Here are our responses to the questions posed.

First, we consider the psychoanalytic process to be essentially asymmetric. This is not to say that the patient does not constantly invite us to engage with the most problematic areas of ourselves and our countertransference. Nevertheless, we would be worried if we were to think that the psychoanalyst had insufficient tools of technique to manage the situation, so that psychic movements could not become equal and reciprocal.

With regard to the second point, we consider that what is evoked in the analyst or perceived in the analyst by the patient, though it can be used in the cure, has basically to do with the unanalysed remainder of the analyst. Concerning ‘nonverbal shifts and communications’, we would like to know better what the author means. Nevertheless, we consider consciousness alteration to be essential for the recovery of what is no longer present in the conscious mind.

On the third point, we should like to recall Freud's statement that the unconscious is not directly recognisable but is evident only through its ‘footprints’, so that we think that all psychoanalytic process is based on inferences and reconstructions.

We thank again Dr Schwaber for giving us the opportunity to discuss these questions more deeply.

Cordially,

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