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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.

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Hewison, D. (2016). Growing Up? A Journey with Laughter by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2015Learning from Life: Becoming a Psychoanalyst by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2014. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 6(1):100-102.

(2016). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 6(1):100-102

Book Reviews

Growing Up? A Journey with Laughter by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2015Learning from Life: Becoming a Psychoanalyst by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2014

Review by:
David Hewison, D.Cpl.Psych.Psych.

Taken together, these two books provide the reader with an insight into the life and the development of one of Britain's most original, creative, and independent contemporary psychoanalysts. The first book, Growing Up? A Journey with Laughter is a collection of anecdotes by Patrick Casement about the first forty years of his life during which, he suggests, he had “no settled idea” of what he wanted to do other than—perhaps—engage in a fierce resistance to anything that anyone else wished to impose upon him; resistance that stems from the family expectation that he would follow his father, his brother, his uncles, and his father's father into the Royal Navy. The cover of the book has a picture of him and his older brother Michael dressed in matelot's whites, standing to attention and saluting the photographer. As Casement points out in both of these books, not only is he halfway out of the frame of the picture, but his salute is performed wrongly and with the wrong hand. His brother Michael, in telling contrast, is doing it perfectly. Casement's wry analysis about himself is that, in effect, he was searching to be met by someone who could see him for who he was rather than who he should be.

Growing Up? gives a very clear indication of Casement's experience of not having been properly met by his mother when he was very young and of its impact on him subsequently. Born into an upper-class family in the mid-1930s, with a succession of nannies taking care of him, home tutoring until the age of eight when he went to boarding prep school, which provided him with a much-needed sense of security and continuity of place that was otherwise missing as the family moved frequently, his account of his early childhood is partly bucolic and partly austere. On the one hand, we get a good sense of his curiosity and fascination with the world, but on the other, we get an overriding sense of distress at the gap between his internal world and the world in which he finds himself, summed up by description of being beaten with a hairbrush by someone (possibly his mother or his long-suffering nanny, Tuckey), catching sight of his own screaming face in the mirror and being shocked by it.


[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2016 and more current articles see the publishers official website.]

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