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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.

(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IV, 1956: The Problem of Ego Identity. Erik Homburger Erikson. Pp. 56-121.. Psychoanal Q., 29:133.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IV, 1956: The Problem of Ego Identity. Erik Homburger Erikson. Pp. 56-121.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:133

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IV, 1956: The Problem of Ego Identity. Erik Homburger Erikson. Pp. 56-121.

Continuing from earlier thoughts Erikson deals here in a new and broad way with the reciprocal interaction of ego and environment. He points out that ego identity is more than the sum of previous identifications; it is actually a new synthesis. He is aware of the earlier need to consider the individual in a kind of isolation, but stresses that an individual ego could not exist without a specifically human environment; yet its development also depends on a potential within the individual for growth in stages. He extends Hartmann's concept of the infant as born 'preadapted to an average expectable environment' to a preadaptedness for a chain of expectable environments. For the individual these stages occur sequentially as psychosocial crises, with a potential for growth in each. Their outcome depends on the outcome of previous development and upon the social institutions aimed at helping to solve the crisis. Hartmann, Kris, and Loewenstein suggest describing cultural conditions according to how they inhibit or invite conflict-free ego functions. Erikson goes beyond this to say that there is a systematic effort by older egos to meet the phase-specific synthetic needs of growing individuals.

In this paper his emphasis is on one of these phase-specific psychosocial crises, the full development of ego identity. This crisis is specific for adolescence. There is necessity for a new synthesis of previous adaptations and identifications in correlation with the current situation and future possibilities (for example, in regard to intimacy versus isolation, or to sexual identification versus sexual diffusion). Various social institutions interact with this synthesis and are aimed at helping to solve the crisis; these include a psychosocial moratorium during adolescence allowing time for role experimentation; various ideologies (simplified views of life) which encourage investment of energy and identification with a group; and gradual acceptance by society of the identity formation of the individual. Various difficulties may also lead to identity diffusion or formation of negative identities.

Erikson discusses points of coincidence with ego psychology and other problems. He illustrates his exposition very aptly with a consideration of George Bernard Shaw, various 'borderline' patients, and the kibbutz movement in Israel.

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Article Citation

(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IV, 1956. Psychoanal. Q., 29:133

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