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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.

(2016). Unpublished Draft Paper on Sexuality by Donald Meltzer. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(3):951-965.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(3):951-965

Archival Studies

Unpublished Draft Paper on Sexuality by Donald Meltzer

Editor's note: Albert Mason discovered an unpublished paper by Donald Meltzer dating from around 1968 and has made the text available to the IJP. He writes “my best guess is that Meltzer gave me the paper to read/approve about the time I was preparing to move to Los Angeles (1968-69) and that I hastily packed it away with other papers. It got buried, and only came to light recently, kind of like a lost score that turns up in someone's attic!” The patient Meltzer discusses in his paper is a patient who Dr Mason treated for approximately 11 years, and about whom Dr Mason consulted with Dr Meltzer early in the treatment. Dr Mason has also provided the original report he wrote about the patient in the 1960s. Following an introduction by Dr Abbot Bronstein, we have published extracts from Dr Mason's report, including the following: details about the case, the two dreams which Dr Mason believes were ‘turning point dreams', and a third dream called the ‘hula hula dream’, as well as the clinical material leading up to it.

Introduction by Abbot A. Bronstein

In 1968 Albert Mason presented his graduation paper to the British Psychoanalytical Institute and Society. Dr. Mason had been in analysis with Dr. Hanna Segal and had consulted with Dr. Donald Meltzer a few times on this case which he wrote up for membership. The same year Dr. Meltzer then presented a brief paper to the British Society, using some of the dreams from Dr. Mason's case to illustrate his evolving theories of sexual states and his views on homosexuality.

[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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