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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.

Hoch, S. Grossman, L. (1993). The Significance of Religious Themes and Fantasies During Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:755-764.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:755-764

The Significance of Religious Themes and Fantasies During Psychoanalysis

Samuel Hoch, M.D. and Lee Grossman, M.D.

HOCH SET THE TASK FOR THE PANEL, to attend to the psychological processes expressed in religious form in clinical work. He surveyed a range of ways in which religious references appear. For example, a young man retreated from awareness of passive feminine longings toward the analyst, via a regression marked by memories of his attachment to his mother. He noticed his excitement at Church as the minister, who was a woman, placed the Communion wafer in his mouth. Subsequent work exposed details of an unconscious fantasy in which concealed negative oedipal wishes were expressed in oral terms. A year later, the patient announced with both anxiety and triumph that he was to be married. He recalled a visit to his mother, and then thought of Michelangelo's Pieta, which he saw as the fusion of mother and child. He remembered how he had held his parents' undivided attention before his siblings were born. He thought of the Son being crucified but resurrected, being "God's only begotten Son," sitting at God's right hand, symbolic of his father's eternal protection and love. He wished that the analyst felt that way about him, and that the analysis would never end.

The oedipal victory of marriage revived conflicts in the transference, expressed in religious imagery. The patient's identification with Christ was a central element in the recovery of a fantasy which had absorbed him during Church services when he was a child. Over time, it had been reshaped to organize and compromise various oedipal conflicts. Crucifixion, symbolizing castration, was undone by resurrection. Jealousy of each parent and of younger siblings was replaced in a regressive attachment to a preoedipal idealized virgin mother, and a remodeled version of an oedipal triad was restored, from which ambivalence and aggression had been eliminated.

[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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