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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.

Michels, R. (1973). Science and Psychoanalysis, Vol. XX. the Dynamics of Power: Edited by Jules H. Masserman, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1972. 214 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 42:637-639.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:637-639

Science and Psychoanalysis, Vol. XX. the Dynamics of Power: Edited by Jules H. Masserman, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1972. 214 pp.

Review by:
Robert Michels

The Scientific Proceedings of the May, 1971 meeting of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis are published as The Dynamics of Power, Volume XX of Science and Psychoanalysis. There are seventeen papers more or less related to the central theme, and two special papers, the presidential address by Eric Wittkower and the Frieda Fromm-Reichmann Award address by Bruno Bettelheim.

Since the time of Adler, power has not been a central concept in the main stream of psychoanalytic thinking. Many of the papers in this symposium give the impression of straining to fit a preselected title—responses to the assignment 'write a paper relevant to Psychoanalysis which includes the term "Power" in the title'. The results are mixed, sometimes pedestrian, but sometimes suggestive of new and interesting points of view.

The term 'power' has several meanings in the symposium. One theme is introduced by John Schimel who cites Sullivan's definition of power as 'having weight and influence in interpersonal affairs'. Silvano Arieti adds a strongly negative connotation: 'a force which is experienced by the individual as thwarting, deflecting, inhibiting, or arresting one's will, one's freedom, or one's capacity for growth'. A second emphasis is suggested by Kurt Adler, who quotes Alfred Adler: 'a feeling of inferiority … demands an enhancement of the self-esteem. Here the fictional final purpose of the striving for power gains enormous influence'; and again, 'The personal striving for power is a concretization of the general striving for perfection'.

[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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