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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.

Diena, S. (2009). The Skin House: A Psychoanalytic Reading of 3-Iron. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(3):647-660.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(3):647-660

Film Essay

The Skin House: A Psychoanalytic Reading of 3-Iron

Simonetta Diena


Man has always projected himself into his architectonic objects. He has designed and seen them as anthropomorphic creatures; he has experienced and lived in them as if they were parts of his own Self, where spaces are expanded and shrunk to fit in with his habits and actions, to the point of becoming for him a sort of second skin, made in the image and likeness of his own way of being.

The house has always been present in man's dreams as a projection of the Self's private spaces, as a representation of emotional states or of attempts to provide new meanings. The house is an object that lends itself like no other to symbolize and represent psychic reality, understood as a bridge linking the inner world to the external one.

In a dream or a story, a house can then manifest itself as open, a meeting place where one can socialize with others; or shut, a protective barrier against persecutory objects. Thus, the house manages to communicate through the thickness of its walls and its armour-plated doors the impenetrability of defences built in the distant past against external enemies, or to represent through windows opening over vast balconies an inner space that gets wider and wider the more we explore it, in an ongoing process of rebuilding and restoration.

And so we hear, from dreams or indeed any other analytic narratives, of walls crumbling because of the damage caused by seepages, or of foundations being laid for new buildings. We have doors that open up, one after the other, on ever new spaces, or which, on the contrary, remain forever shut; we share confused trajectories through shadowy rooms, or sunny balconies full of flowers, long corridors leading to countless bedrooms, the discovery of inimaginable spaces, forgotten closets, large empty living rooms, small studies filled with objects.

Cinema has often portrayed with great subtlety and precision these symbolizations, these extensions and representations of the Self, by using the house as a metaphor to convey its dwellers' phantasies.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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