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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.

Ramsay, D. (2012). Loneliness and Longing: Conscious and Unconscious Aspects edited by Brent Willock, Lori C. Bohm, and Rebecca Coleman Curtis New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis, 2012, 338 pp.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 20(2):351-355.

(2012). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 20(2):351-355

Loneliness and Longing: Conscious and Unconscious Aspects edited by Brent Willock, Lori C. Bohm, and Rebecca Coleman Curtis New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis, 2012, 338 pp.

Review by:
Doug Ramsay

Loneliness and longing is a huge topic. After evolving for millions of years, we social mammals have developed a profoundly complex system for attachment. The experience of non-connection can range from mild longing to a catastrophic affective state with lifelong consequences. Willock, Bohm, and Curtis have enlisted 25 authors to engage this loneliness behemoth theoretically and clinically. Their stated intent was to “address the inner sense of loneliness—that is, feeling alone even in the company of others—by drawing on different aspects of loneliness and longing” (p. i). These aspects included loneliness in the consulting room, the relationship between loneliness and love, the effects of social networking and the Internet, how loneliness changes throughout the life cycle, and healing the analyst's loneliness. It is a broad net, indeed, that is required to contain such a creature.

The 26 chapters here are organized into 10 sections, some of which are more cohesive than others. Bohm's straightforward introduction describes the contents of each chapter clearly and succinctly. Although all the chapters were interesting and worthwhile reading, for the sake of brevity I will review several of the contributions that stood out for me.

In the opening chapter, Sandra Buechler candidly and eloquently blends clinical and personal observations with a review of some of the psychoanalytic literature on loneliness. One quote seemed to capture a nugget for understanding the nuances of this experience.

[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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