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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.

Miller, P. (2015). Piera Aulagnier, an Introduction: Some Elements of her Intellectual Biography. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(5):1355-1369.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(5):1355-1369

2. Key Papers

Piera Aulagnier, an Introduction: Some Elements of her Intellectual Biography Language Translation

Patrick Miller

The title of this paper, ‘Naissance d'un corps, origine d'une histoire’, bears witness to the importance that Piera Aulagnier granted to the dimension of history, and more precisely to the notion of historicization which she emphasized, and is related in some ways to that of the identificatory process in the development of personality.

However, as far as her biography is concerned, we are left with scarce material, and the essence of it is mostly intellectual. It lies mainly in her books and articles where we can try and retrace the development and transformation of her thinking. It also resides in the Journals she created: first L'Inconscient (in collaboration with Jean Clavreul), then Topique which she launched in 1969 as sole chief editor, and in the part she actively played in the history of the French psychoanalytical movement, its controversies and schisms.

First in the Société Française de Psychanalyse (SFP) where she trained and graduated and began publishing, then at the Ecole Freudienne de Paris founded in 1964 where she followed Lacan who had just been banned from being a training analyst by the IPA site visit committee when the SFP became an IPA Study Group, out of loyalty and solidarity because she thought the ban was unacceptable rather than out of support for his positions on training.

When Lacan implemented a new graduating procedure he called ‘La Passe’, she, together with François Perrier and J.P. Valabrega fiercely criticized it and refused to comply.

[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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