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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.

Oliva, L. (2010). Art Lust: Desire and the Work of Picasso and Klimt. Psychoanal. Perspect., 7(2):244-258.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 7(2):244-258

Art Lust: Desire and the Work of Picasso and Klimt

Lynne Oliva, M.A., MFT

What do you see when you really take the time to look at a work of erotic art? What occurs in the intersubjective field between viewer and painting, artist and model, viewer and artist? The author examines the impact that deep personal engagement with a specific work of erotic art can generate, deriving from an imaginary dialogue between viewer and artist. The emphasis here is on the potential, intuited, and imagined conversation as it moves from the work's surface to the deepest layers of the artist's and viewer's psyches, requiring a radically subjective perspective. The focus of this particular investigation is on two daring masterpieces of erotic art painted a hundred years ago, in 1907: Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, generally considered to be the most important painting of the 20th century, and Gustav Klimt's Danae. The discussion includes related works from the history of art as well as allusions to aspects of desire, erotic imagination, and psychologically subversive elements past and present. The author presents a highly personal examination of these two canvases, applying the specific methodology elaborated, in the interest of opening up the potential space for deepening the way we think about and relate to erotic art.

A man must not remain indifferent before a work of art that he passes by, negligently casting a glance at it.

[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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