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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.

Angelergues, J. (2016). Growing Old: A Journey of Self-Discovery [Vieillir: une découverte] by Danielle Quinodoz, translated by David Alcorn Routledge, London, New York, NY, 2010; 218 pp; $27.50. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(2):544-548.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(2):544-548

Growing Old: A Journey of Self-Discovery [Vieillir: une découverte] by Danielle Quinodoz, translated by David Alcorn Routledge, London, New York, NY, 2010; 218 pp; $27.50

Review by:
J. Angelergues

The title of this book by Danielle Quinodoz may seem somewhat provocative because, without even the addition of a question mark, it presents growing old as the object of a discovery, as a domain in which new kinds of adventure become possible, and perhaps even as another ‘dark continent’. In the prologue itself the tone is set - and a distinctly positive one at that: “Growing old offers perhaps an opportunity of discovering how we can love ourselves better, how we can love better.” Here the author is developing an idea that she has outlined in some of her previous writings based on her work as a clinician and psychoanalyst with elderly people. The main object of this book, which aims to restore its rightful place to growing old, is what the author calls growing old actively, i.e. the work of growing old. That work will perhaps allow us to draw closer to Chopin's and Delacroix's ‘blue note’, a feeling of harmony.

For Quinodoz, the work of growing old is simply a particular instance of the work of living: not simply putting on the years passively, but taking on the patina of age. Growing old is an attempt to take stock of the whole of our own past history, in order to relate the end of our life to the overall path that we have been following. In this way, we can reconstruct for ourselves our own internal life-history. The wish to find some coherence to our existence becomes more and more pressing as its end draws near, but it does come up against the opposite unconscious wish, i.

[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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