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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.

Kapsambelis, V. (2015). Chemins de la symbolisation d'Alain Gibeault. Rev. fr. psychanal., 79(1):256-263.

(2015). Revue française de psychanalyse, 79(1):256-263

Chemins de la symbolisation d'Alain Gibeault

Review by:
Vassilis Kapsambelis

C'est avec Baudelaire et sa « forêt de symboles » qui observent l'homme avec des « regards familiers », qu'Alain Gibeault commence un texte qui a toutes les caractéristiques d'un classique : par l'immensité d'un savoir accumulé dans trois cent-cinquante pages particulièrement denses, par la clarté et l'intelligence des commentaires théoriques, par l'exhaustivité de l'exploration proposée, et par le solide ancrage du propos dans la clinique à travers les nombreux traitements psychanalytiques relatés.

Pourtant, et malgré son impressionnante étendue, il serait possible de ramener la recherche exposée dans cet ouvrage à une seule question : qu'est-ce que la symbolisation pour nous, psychanalystes ? Poser le propos de l'ouvrage de cette façon, c'est déjà préciser le fil conducteur qui l'anime : la psychanalyse n'est pas une sorte de parent pauvre des sciences humaines qui quémande aux autres disciplines, philosophie ou linguistique, esthétique ou préhistoire, quelques concepts dont l'adaptation bricolée lui permettrait de vivre sa pensée et sa pratique; la psychanalyse a ses propres concepts et sa propre pratique (incluant la pratique de la théorie). Ainsi de la symbolisation. Le terme existe chez Freud; il possède un sens et une efficacité théorique et pratique en psychanalyse; il fait partie du vocabulaire courant des discours qu'elle développe. L'ouverture vers les autres disciplines n'a d'autre sens que de comparer ce qu'est le symbole en psychanalyse (indépendamment de ces disciplines) avec ce qu'il est, là où il existe (indépendamment de la psychanalyse).

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2017 and more current articles see the publishers official website here.]

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