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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.

Widlöcher, D. (2000). On Abstinence. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 121-127.

Widlöcher, D. (2000). On Abstinence. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 121-127

On Abstinence Book Information Previous Up Next

Daniel Widlöcher, M.D.

The principle of abstinence was considered very early by Freud as a basic requirement of the psychoanalytical technique. In “Observations on Transference Love” (1915a) he wrote, “The treatment must be carried out in abstinence” (p. 165) and added, It [is] a fundamental principle that the patient's needs and longing should be allowed to persist in her, in order that they may serve as forces impelling her to do work and to make changes. (p. 165).

But it is not very clear whether the principle concerns mainly the doctor or the patient. For many years, attention has been paid mainly to the former case, abstinence from the psychoanalyst's point of view. There is heated debate between “deprivers” and “gratifiers”, the question dealing with “the balance of gratifications and deprivations” that “have to be purposefully employed in the conduct of a psychoanalysis” (Fox, 1984, p. 228). So the question of abstinence is closely related with neutrality (Schachter, 1984) and the debate seems particularly relevant to Freud's initial concern about the love demands of his women patients (1919a, pp. 159-168).

But the question seems to have shifted from the psychoanalyst to the patient, from neutrality to the place of the treatment in the everyday life of the patients. This shift is related to the transference neurosis theory as it was described in the twenty-eighth lecture of the “Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis(Freud, 1916-1917).

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