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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.

Gordon, R. (1978). Look! He has Come Through! D. H. Lawrence, women and individuation. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(3):258-274.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(3):258-274

Look! He has Come Through! D. H. Lawrence, women and individuation

Rosemary Gordon, Ph.D.

I. Psychological Reflections

IN 1913 FREUD concluded a little-known yet exquisite, short paper ‘The three caskets’ with the following remark:

We might argue that what is represented here [he refers to the stories, myths, legends and plays of Cordelia, Aphrodite, Cinderella, Psyche, and the three Fates] are the three inevitable relations that a man has with a woman—the woman who bears him, the woman who is his mate and the woman who destroys him; or that they are the three forms taken by the figure of the mother in the course of a man's life—the mother herself, the beloved one who is chosen after her pattern, and lastly the Mother Earth who receives him once more. (FREUD 1)

There is little doubt that Lawrence was—and considered himself to have been—trapped and smothered by his mother, particularly after the death of his older brother, Ernest. And there is little doubt that she despised her miner-husband and did all she could to embroil her sons in these same hostile feelings towards their father. Indeed, she did all she could to direct their education, career, attitudes and manners into a direction different and superior to his.

Lawrence had no illusions about it. In fact, soon after her death he wrote about it with bitterness. In his synopsis of Sons and lovers in 1912 he said of his older brother that he had given ‘his sex to a fribble and his mother holds his soul. But the split kills him.’ (MOORE 18, p. 62). Nor was Lawrence unaware of the effects on him, on men in general, of such crushing love from the mother.

[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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