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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.

Wilson, C.P. (1974). The Voice of the Symbol: By Martin Grotjahn, M.D. Los Angeles: Mara Books, 1971. 224 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 43:308-311.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 43:308-311

The Voice of the Symbol: By Martin Grotjahn, M.D. Los Angeles: Mara Books, 1971. 224 pp.

Review by:
C. Philip Wilson

It is refreshing to read an author who is still preoccupied with symbols. The reviewer shares Grotjahn's opinion that symbolism and dreams have been neglected in the recent psychoanalytic literature. The author is to be congratulated for his attempt to be uninhibited in putting down exactly what he thinks and feels about symbolism and a wide range of related subjects.

The book comprises ten loosely connected chapters, extending from Symbolic Communication and Its Failure in Television to The Future of Man in the World of Symbol Integration. The reader would do well to begin with chapter eight, The Symbol in Psychoanalytic Theory, which gives a comprehensive review of research in symbolism. Grotjahn attempts to synthesize such divergent points of view as those of the Kleinians and classical freudians. However, this reviewer questions the author's conclusion that the work of Spitz confirms the hypotheses of the Kleinians. No mention is made of this reviewer's research establishing 'stone' as the earliest ontogenetic symbol and dating it to the time of weaning. Such an assumption is not in agreement with the Kleinians, who postulate symbol formation at three months of age, at the time of the so-called paranoid position.

Other chapters include an interesting study of the life and work of the relatively neglected psychosomatic pioneer, Georg Groddeck, and a fascinating though greatly condensed psychoanalytic appraisal of the symbol in medieval Christian art which concentrates largely upon Hieronymus Bosch's painting, The Millenium.

[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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