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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.

Tabachnick, E. Tabachnick, N. (1976). The Second Birth of D. H. Lawrence. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 4(4):469-480.

(1976). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 4(4):469-480

The Second Birth of D. H. Lawrence

Evelyn Tabachnick and Norman Tabachnick

This paper deals with transitions in human identity. More specifically, it deals with a transition in the life of D. H. Lawrence, the writer. Certain aspects of Lawrence's life and writing, at a time when he was moving into a new and important phase, will be discussed. It was the time of his hesitant entry into the role of lover of women, compelling writer, and prophet.

Before moving into Lawrence's life, however, it is worthwhile to discuss, briefly, certain aspects of identity theory, as well as the concept “transition.”

A number of psychoanalytic theorists have written on identity. However, Erik Erikson (1950, 1959, 1968) dealt with it most intensively and is generally regarded as its preeminent theorist.

At any rate we find Erikson's views valuable - our definition of identity is derived from his thinking.

The concept of human identity has two important and interlocking facets. First, it refers to the specific complex of goals and means which characterize each person. Second, it describes an individual's feeling of uniqueness. I am myself and different from every other human being.

[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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