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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.

Money-Kyrle, R. (1978). The Collected Papers of Roger Money-Kyrle. Clunie Press.

Money-Kyrle, R. (1978). The Collected Papers of Roger Money-Kyrle. , 1-484. Clunie Press.

The Collected Papers of Roger Money-Kyrle

Roger Money-Kyrle

Edited by:
Donald Meltzer

Assisted by:
Edna O'Shaughnessy

Contents

  Table of Contents  
  Prefatory Note vii
  Editor's Introduction viii
  Author's Preface x
  Autobiographical Note xi
  Acknowledgements xvi
1 Belief and Representation (1927) 1
2 The Psycho-physical Apparatus (1928) 16
3 Morals and Super-men (1928) 28
4 Critical Abstract: Roheim's ‘After the Death of the Primal Father’ (1929) 38
5 The Remote Consequences of Psycho-analysis on Individual, Social and Instinctive Behaviour (1931) 57
6 A Psychologist's Utopia (1930) 82
7 A Pyscho-analytic Study of the Voices of Joan of Arc (1933) 109
8 A Psychological Analysis of the Causes of War (1934) 131
9 The Development of War (1937) 138
10 The Psychology of Propaganda (1941) 160
11 Towards a Common Aim: A Psycho-analytic Contribution to Ethics (1944) 176
12 Social Conflict and the Challenge to Psychology (1947) 198
13 Varieties of Group Formation (1948) 210
14 Some Aspects of State and Character in Germany (1951) 229
15 Towards a Rational Attitude to Crime (1953) 245
16 The Anthropological and Psycho-analytic Concept of the Norm (1955) 253
17 Psycho-analysis and Ethics (1955) 264
18 An Inconclusive Contribution to the Theory of the Death Instinct (1955) 285
19 Psycho-analysis and Philosophy (1956) 297
20 The World of the Unconscious and the World of Common Sense (1956) 318
21 Normal Counter-transference and Some of its Deviations (1956) 330
22 The Process of Psycho-analytical Inference (1960) 343
23 On Prejudice - a Psycho-analytical Approach (1960) 353
24 A Note on Migraine (1963) 361
25 Politics from the Point of View of Psycho-analysis (1964) 366
26 Megalomania (1965) 376
27 Review: W.

[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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