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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.

Kayton, E.C. (1960). Development of Sexual Identity in a Little Girl. Psychoanal. Rev., 47A(1):116.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Review, 47A(1):116

Development of Sexual Identity in a Little Girl

Eloise C. Kayton

The following contribution originates in the analysis of the father of a three-year-old girl and was told in associations of the patient during the interpretation of one of his dreams.

His daughter has developed a kind of ritual. At bedtime she asks her father to find her in order to put her to bed. He asks, “Where will you be?” She replies, “In the living room behind your chair.” He agrees. After a few minutes he enters the room. Her giggle is audible. He calls her name as he looks here and there in the room. Her excited giggle becomes more shrill at each step that he takes. She screeches as he comes to her hiding place. Then she asks that he pull her out. He replies, “That's too hard!” She says, “I'll come out halfway, now pull me!' He does. Her satisfaction is complete when he agrees to carry her off to bed over his shoulder. Her mother says the little girl's facial expression is so dramatic that she looks like Clara Bow being carried away by King Kong. “The little ham!”

It is no accident that at this time the daughter's sleep is occasionally disturbed. She walks into her sleeping parents' bedroom sometimes and announces that she is going to the bathroom or that she needs a Kleenex or she makes some other equally significant pronouncement. Her father says, “I guess she's satisfied after she has seen that everything is in proper order because she goes back to sleep.” How rightly his unconscious chooses his words although consciously he only dimly perceives the truth revealed in his statement.

On hearing this anecdotal material Dr. Theodor Reik was reminded of the custom wherein the bride wishes to be carried over the threshold in her husband's arms, as she enters married life.

[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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