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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.

Freud, S. (1915). Repression. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 141-158.

Freud, S. (1915). [SEN141a1]Repression. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 141-158

[SEN141a1]Repression Book Information Previous Up Next Language Translation

Sigmund Freud

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[SEN141a2]Editor's Note to "Repression"


[SEN141a4]1915 Die Verdrängung Int. Z. Psychoanal., 3 (3), 129-38.

[SEN141a5]1918 Die Verdrängung S.K.S.N., 4, 279-93. (1922, 2nd ed.)

[SEN141a6]1924 Die Verdrängung G.S., 5, 466-79.

[SEN141a7]1924 Die Verdrängung Technik und Metapsychol., 188-201.

[SEN141a8]1931 Die Verdrängung Theoretische Schriften, 83-97.

[SEN141a9]1946 Die Verdrängung G.W., 10, 248-61.

[SEN141a10](b) English Translation:

[SEN141a11]‘Repression’ 1925 C.P., 4, 84-97. (Tr. C. M. Baines.)

[SEN141a12]The present translation, though based on that of 1925, has been very largely rewritten.

[SEN141a13]In his ‘History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement’ (1914d), Freud declared that ‘the theory of repression is the cornerstone on which the whole structure of psycho-analysis rests’ (p. 16 above); and in the present essay, together with Section IV of the paper on ‘The Unconscious’ which follows it (p. 180 ff.), he gave his most elaborate formulation of that theory.

[SEN141a14]The concept of repression goes back historically to the very beginnings of psycho-analysis. The first published reference to it was in the Breuer and Freud ‘Preliminary Communication’ of 1893 (Standard Ed., 2, 10). The term ‘Verdrängung’ had been used by the early nineteenth-century psychologist Herbart and may possibly have come to Freud's knowledge through his teacher Meynert, who had been an admirer of Herbart.

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