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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.

Zeitz, J.A. (1982). An Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis. By A. E. Bernstein & G. M. Warner. New York: Jason Aronson. 1981. Pp. 237.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:359-360.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:359-360

An Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis. By A. E. Bernstein & G. M. Warner. New York: Jason Aronson. 1981. Pp. 237.

Review by:
John A. Zeitz

This book will be of interest to psychoanalytic teachers and beginning students of psychoanalysis. As a text, it provides an overview of theory and practice. Students will find it useful because abundant clinical case illustrations are included which demonstrate a close connexion to theory. Drs Bernstein and Warner include their own clinical work at many points in order to explain basic psychoanalytic concepts. Their aim in this book is fairly expansive in that they discuss basic theory, sketch out the general evolution of psychoanalysis, and explore clinical syndromes. They also attempt to expose some areas of current debate in psychoanalysis and provide a summary view of what is involved in a typical treatment experience. It is not surprising that the authors are unable to discuss in the kind of detail or depth that more sophisticated readers would want.

They decide on an historical approach beginning with Freud's essential discoveries in the late 1890s regarding unconscious phenomena such as transference, dreams, and parapraxes. After they lay out the background of the topographic theory, they move on to the structural and anxiety theories and touch briefly on such basics as resistance, the intrapsychic apparatus, and defence mechanisms. Many of the complexities of the role of unconscious fantasy in symptom formation as well as Freud's route to his evolving theories are left for more advanced texts. The end of the initial theoretical section of the book focuses on pregenital sexuality and perversions as part of Freud's discoveries concerning infantile sexuality.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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