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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.

Miller, C.H. (1979). Aggression in Everyday Life. Am. J. Psychoanal., 39(2):99-112.

(1979). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39(2):99-112

Aggression in Everyday Life

Claude H. Miller, M.D.

Aggression has a negative connotation. A basis for discussion can be established by consulting the dictionary1 as a starting point for inquiry: “Aggressiveness—a form of psychobiologic energy, either innate or arising in response to or intensified by frustration which may be manifested by: (1) overt destruction, fighting, infliction of pain, sexual attack, or forcible seizure (2) covert hostile attitudes, covetousness, or greed (3) introjection into one's self (as self-hate or masochism) (4) sublimation into play or sports (5) healthy self-assertiveness or a drive to accomplishment or to a mastery of skills.” Each of these dimensions will be explored in some detail. The definition of anger, hostility and aggressive in clinical terms is: anger—the feeling associated with being displeased; hostility—acting unfriendly; aggressiveacting out anger. When referring to generic aggression, the word will be italicized.

It is evident at the outset that what is being discussed is psychobiologic energy, which is one dimension of a life force that propels all of us and drives us in our everyday activities. Our definition soon runs into difficulty, however, as it is uncertain whether this energy is innate or arises in response to, or is intensified by, frustration. Some newborn infants are alert, energetically moving about and exercising their motor apparatus, whereas others are somnolent, subdued, and must be stimulated to get them to suck. At this point in the infant's life, the difference in psychobiologic energy may be innate.

Later, as childrearing progresses and value systems are learned, there is much more reason to believe that a buildup of unexpressed energy can be intensified by frustration. Many infants are not allowed to crawl, for example. The impact of this lack of experience has consequences in the personality, as well as in the motor-musculature development. This in turn provokes responses from the mother in reaction to an irritable, fretful child. The mother's displeasure solicits reactions from the child, such as rage, agitation, or apathy.

We have a certain quantum of aggression to expend daily.

[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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