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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.

Corbett, K. (2013). Break the Circle: Bullying Fantasies, Normative Regulation, and The Ghost of Melancholy. Psychoanal. Inq., 33(2):166-173.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 33(2):166-173


Break the Circle: Bullying Fantasies, Normative Regulation, and The Ghost of Melancholy

Ken Corbett, Ph.D.

With this set of articles, we move from the bully to bullying. We move from the individual to a process. We move from a category to a system. Guided by Twemlow's (this issue) succinct proposition that “bullying is a process, not a person”, the analyses in this set of articles focus on how bully/bullied/bystander roles circulate and corecreate the system of bullying. The authors work with ideas about structures and how those structures constitute individual actors. Reflecting their interest in structure and process, these authors frequently chart their efforts to promote consciousness about the systemic work of bullying. In fact, such efforts constitute the principal therapeutic action described by several of the analysts writing here.

These moves are made in the broad tradition of humanism. Ethical reflection promotes and follows upon psychoanalytic considerations and therapeutic modes of recognition. These considerations lead to calls for social justice. Through shared beliefs about interhuman morality and community, these authors establish and promote plans for social action in the face of bullying. They take action by describing hate's circulation and perpetuation. They take action through institutional and school-based interventions. They take action through their efforts to aid their patients in seeking social and interpersonal redress for bullying.

In this blend of psychoanalytic practice and social action, we have an interesting opportunity to observe the promotion of a rational ethics, not only through the work of cognition, but also through the investigation of the ways in which the irrational can undo ethical response. These writers chart the circling inter-subjective processes of bullying, along with questioning how bullying crafts an irrational mind.

I aim to elaborate on these considerations of bullying, and to do so by highlighting the constituting force of normative regulation. I begin by detailing how the authors of these articles record the kinds of fantasies that are manifest and secured through bullying.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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