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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.

Ferenczi, S. (1919). Letter from Sándor Ferenczi to Sigmund Freud, February 13, 1919. The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi Volume 2, 1914-1919, 332-333.

Ferenczi, S. (1919). Letter from Sándor Ferenczi to Sigmund Freud, February 13, 1919. The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi Volume 2, 1914-1919 , 332-333

Letter from Sándor Ferenczi to Sigmund Freud, February 13, 1919 Book Information Previous Up Next

Sándor Ferenczi

Vienna, February 13, 1919
IX., Berggasse 19

Dear friend,

I was very pleased to see your writing again. It is understandable that one would like to communicate good things, but that doesn't happen every day and can't fill up a correspondence. In the meantime, you do report about hopes and advances; in some points fulfillment must soon ensue. As to the chance at the university, it certainly should be considered that all your patrons won't remain in office long enough for a decision to take place. Marriage and living quarters are certainly more assured, but I would very much wish for you to get the teaching position.

Your paper on technique1 is pure analytic gold, and can only be completely appreciated by the worker. In a few places I would have felt like adding a continuing or concluding statement.

The matter of the big fund is not so bad as you think. Toni did commit himself energetically later on and finally got the promise from Bódy that the matter will be settled favorably at the next visit.

Toni is, as you yourself have found, wild and in an uproar, subjectively very well, objectively in resistance. I expect with certainty that the sublimation which has now been removed will be restored on a more secure basis after the treatment. Provided that the real conditions in the business don't bring a premature end to his absence or bring about a new illusory cure!

You will certainly learn about all our prospects and works through Rank, who is functioning flawlessly. We will, naturally, especially speed up your book.

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