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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.

Ellis, H. (1925). The Synthesis of Dreams: A Study of a Series of one Hundred Dreams. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(3):251-294.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(3):251-294

Original Articles

The Synthesis of Dreams: A Study of a Series of one Hundred Dreams

Havelock Ellis

We have become familiar during recent years with the analysis of dreams. The typical form of such dream-analysis may fairly be said to be due to Freud. His Die Traumdeutung marks an epoch in the study of dreams; that much be recognized even by those who question the general validity of the principles there applied. Never before had so concentrated and piercing an energy of intellectual vision been applied to the phenomena of a dream. Never before had so much been read out of—though some might say read into—an isolated dream. On the whole, without doubt, dream-analysis, as thus understood, has become an accredited method. There may be wide differences of opinion as to its special details, or its general limitations, or its universal validity, but as a method it stands. It may even be said to stand so firmly that no other method of dream study is at the present time being carried out with the same thoroughness, if even it is being carried out at all. Yet there is at least one other method of dream-study which is of the same psychological validity, and that is the method which I would term dream-synthesis.

It may fairly be said that the method of dream-synthesis is, as a scientific method—for as an unscientific method dream-analysis had its beginnings early in human history—older than the other methods. Everyone who makes a study of the characteristics of his own dreams may be said to be occupied with dream-synthesis. In America, also, at one time (as we may see in the early volumes of the American Journal of Psychology), there have been some more or less thorough attempts at a scientifically methodical dream-synthesis.

[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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