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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.

Litowitz, B.E. (2008). Academic Exchange: Time, Music, and Reverie. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 56(4):1189-1190.

(2008). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 56(4):1189-1190

Acadimic Exchange

Academic Exchange: Time, Music, and Reverie

Bonnie E. Litowitz

Music has always been of interest to psychoanalysts, who recognize that it affords a powerful form for affective expression. We listen for the music in our patients' speech, the prosody that indicates the significance, and often the true meaning, of their spoken words. In this way we listen like the baby listens to its mother's voice, as she listens to the baby, before words have meanings.

In this academic exchange, Riccardo Lombardi calls our attention to another dimension of listening to music: music evoked in an analyst's reverie as he listens to his patients struggle to express and contain their unformed and overwhelming emotions. Lombardi describes patients who failed to receive needed, early dyadic support for affect regulation and how music, intruding in the analyst's reverie enabled a reparative attunement to be reengaged in the analytic couple. In trying to understand what feature of music might be critical for the expression and containment of affects, Lombardi focuses on the importance of time.

To deepen our understanding of the interrelations of time, music, and emotion, we asked John Austin, a composer, to provide his thoughts on the themes in Lombardi's paper. He could not, of course, comment on the analyst's reverie, but he has graciously provided us a rare glimpse into the perspective of an analysand for whom music is equally evocative.

John Austin studied composition while a Harvard undergraduate and later in Vienna and Chicago, receiving his doctorate in music from the University of Chicago in 1981. From 1981 to 1999 he supported his composing by practicing law (having graduated from Harvard Law School in 1960); he now devotes his time fully to music. His works have been performed in Chicago and Cambridge (Massachusetts), and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Door County Music Festivals. He is currently collaborating on an opera with his wife, Christine Froula, a Northwestern University professor of English.


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