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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.

Rubin, L.R. (2003). Wilhelm Reich and Anna Freud: His Expulsion from Psychoanalysis. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 12(2-3):109-117.

(2003). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 12(2-3):109-117

Wilhelm Reich and Anna Freud: His Expulsion from Psychoanalysis

Lore Reich Rubin, M.D.

This article describes the growth of hostility towards Wilhelm Reich in the psychoanalytic community over his Marxist ideology and activism as well as disagreements over the death instinct. It brings to the fore the behind the scenes political manipulations between Ernest Jones and Anna Freud to effect the expulsion of Reich both from the Vienna and Berlin local psychoanalytic societies and from the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). It describes Reich's reactions to these events and the pressure placed on other psychoanalysts to stop supporting him and also the revision of history about the expulsion. It discusses the use of the term “crazy” as it was used in the psychoanalytic movement. Further the article discusses personality attributes of Anna Freud leading to counter-transference possessiveness to children and women, especially patients. It briefly touches on the attitudes of both Sigmund and Anna Freud toward sex and how this furthered the clash with Reich. It discusses the similarity between Anna's actions toward the Burlingham children and what happened to the children of Reich.

[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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