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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.

Sandmeyer, J. (2019). Understanding Homophobia in Our Forefathers: Rethinking How Kohut Actually Worked. Psychoanal. Self. Cxt., 14(4):376-392.

(2019). Psychoanalysis, Self, and Context, 14(4):376-392

Understanding Homophobia in Our Forefathers: Rethinking How Kohut Actually Worked

Janna Sandmeyer, Ph.D.

Jule Miller’s (1985) article entitled “How Kohut Actually Worked,” remains a valuable window into Kohut’s clinical perspective toward the end of his life. However, one disturbing element to the article is Kohut and Miller’s homophobic and heterosexist approach to the homosexual material as described by the patient in the patient’s experience of self. Understanding Kohut’s perspective on homosexuality is a complex undertaking, complicated by the intersection of the context of the times in which he lived, his experience of homosexuality in his personal life, and his theoretical positions. The purpose of this article is threefold: (a) to highlight the clinical principles that exemplified Kohut’s way of thinking toward the end of his life, as communicated by Jule Miller, and to apply these same principles in a way that broadens exploration of the clinical material; (b) to maintain the relevance of Miller’s article in the self psychology canon by offering a corrective for the damaging nature of the homophobic and heterosexist aspects of the article; and (c) to combat psychoanalysis’s historic antipathy toward gay people in an effort to make psychoanalysis accessible and appealing to people of diverse sexual identity. The author suggests three intricately entwined factors contributed to Kohut and Miller’s perspectives on the patient’s homosexual fantasy and desire: the period in which the supervision occurred, a conjunction in the supervision, and Kohut and Miller’s personal reactions to the patient’s homosexual desires and behavior.

[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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