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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.

Meltzer, D. (1975). Compulsive Generosity. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:135-145.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:135-145

Compulsive Generosity

Donald Meltzer, M.D.

THE CONFUSION, DUE TO PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION (Klein, 1955), between the mother's breasts and a little girl's buttocks (Meltzer, 1967) can, under certain circumstances, become such a satisfactory solution to a multiplicity of infantile, and later, social anxieties that it may constitute the mainspring of character formation, the leading quality of which may be a charming, but compulsive, generosity. The economic problem of managing to be giving-to-others without completely depleting oneself tends, however, in such people, to promote a certain fragility in their adaptation which may break down in various ways. In several patients, over a number of years, I have recognized this configuration to play a role in such diverse symptoms as depressive breakdown, anorexia, diarrhoea, manic or hypomanic reactions, examination anxiety, pseudo-nymphomania, suicidal rumination and others. In this paper I wish to focus on the character structure and the means of its fragile maintenance. To this end I will try to describe the analytic experience with a young woman in the fourth year of whose analysis we came across most convincing evidence of the deep and lasting effect upon her of her mother having developed a transient breast abscess in the first month of feeding which was incised and drained and left a small round scar.

Mrs G. had been the beautiful child of a beautiful mother who had "the best legs in the village" and a magnificent head of hair, but the feeding of four children had ruined her breasts, which seemed to my patient quite totally collapsed compared to her own.

[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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