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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.

Di Benedetto, A. (2005). Sentire le parole. Archivi sonori della memoria implicita e musicalità del transfert [Feeling the words. Resonant archives of implicit memory and musicality of the transference] By Mauro Mancia Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2004. 214 pp. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(5):1497-1501.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(5):1497-1501

Sentire le parole. Archivi sonori della memoria implicita e musicalità del transfert [Feeling the words. Resonant archives of implicit memory and musicality of the transference] By Mauro Mancia Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2004. 214 pp

Review by:
Antonio Di Benedetto

This well-written and pleasant to read book belongs to that group of studies that are marking a change among the theoretical and clinical paradigms of psychoanalysis. The attention of psychoanalysts is, in fact, moving from the construction- reconstruction of a ‘sense’ to the research for a shared ‘feeling’ capable of acting as a connective for the interpretative activity.

This is a point of view, or rather a point of listening, which opens new theoretical perspectives. It holds in great account Bion's lesson about the necessity, in psycho analysis, of an ‘unsaturated’knowledge, which can integrate the wealth of knowledge inherited from the past with an availability to receive what is new, what is not-yet-thought; yet tolerating the paradox, inescapable in psychoanalytic knowledge, of having to base itself on the already known in order to deconstruct it, thus activating a mental space open to what was inaudible before. In this sense, the ideal cognitive model is one which can work as a starting point of divergent lines of thought, namely one which can provide lines of flight like the ones in a pictorial perspective, to widen the visible scenery. A model that avoids the temptation to elaborate a ‘strong theory’ risks entrapping analytical knowledge into a few explanatory concepts which would not do justice to the complexity of experience.

Any theory, however strong it might be, sooner or later will have to acknowledge its inability to explain a great part of the subjectively lived experience.

[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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