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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.

Lothane, Z. (2010). Sándor Ferenczi, the Dramatologist of Love. Psychoanal. Perspect., 7(1):165-182.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 7(1):165-182

Sándor Ferenczi, the Dramatologist of Love

Zvi Lothane, M.D.

Sándor ferenczi, one of the most gifted and most maligned of Freud's students, was a prominent pioneer of interpersonal psychoanalysis. He understood that so-called symptoms are acts of communication between a sender and a receiver, and in 1912 he described symptoms as products of interaction between the analysand and analyst. By extrapolation, all symptoms are disturbed communications—fluid processes in time, not static diagnoses set in stone. Ferenczi also understood that symptoms are communications of love, given and returned.

For decades, psychoanalysts utilized the narrative as the model of the patient's life story as told to the analyst. It was Freud, as taught by Josef Breuer, who revolutionized medicine by introducing the narrative as essential for evaluation of the patient's disorder: “It still strikes me myself as strange,” writes Freud, “that the case histories I write should read like short stories (Novellen) and that, as one might say, they lack the serious stamp of science. I must console myself with the reflection that the nature of the subject is evidently responsible for this rather than any preference of my own” (Breuer & Freud, 1895, p. 160).

[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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