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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.

Palombo, S.R. (1984). Deconstructing the Manifest Dream. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 32:405-420.

(1984). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 32:405-420

Deconstructing the Manifest Dream

Stanley R. Palombo, M.D.


A major part of the analyst's task is to discover the basis for the patient's misidentification of his present life situation with significant but threatening events of his earlier life, now repressed and inaccessible to conscious recall. Reconstructing the patient's history is a crucial step in this process of discovery, but the dynamic relation between the present and the past must be reconstructed as well.

The structure of the manifest dream contains the key to this relation. The imagery of the dream is a composite of experiential materials drawn from important drive-related events of the present and the past. The complex formed by the manifest dream and the patient's associations provides the analyst with data about both of these distinct sets of drive-related experiences.

As Freud's discussion of his Mélusine dream illustrates, one associative thread can be traced to an experience that incorporates a conflicted current wish. Another thread will lead to

an experience in which a repressed wish of childhood has been expressed. Where the two associative threads converge, in the composite imagery of the dream, the basis for the identification between the wishes of the present and the past will be exposed.

An understanding of the structure of the manifest dream helps to clarify some of the important theoretical issues left unresolved in Freud's writings. These include: the function of the day residue and the mechanism through which it is formed, the relation of the screen memory to the associative process, and the differing roles of condensation and displacement in dream construction and free association. A simple procedure is described for enhancing the recovery of the significant childhood memories whose details have been incorporated into the composite imagery of the manifest dream.

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