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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.

Ferenczi, S. (1930). The Principle of Relaxation and Neocatharsis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 11:428-443.

(1930). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 11:428-443

The Principle of Relaxation and Neocatharsis

S. Ferenczi

At the conclusion of this essay many of you will very likely have the impression that I ought not to have called it 'Progress in Technique', seeing that what I say in it might more fittingly be termed retrogressive or reactionary. But I hope that this impression will soon be dispelled by the reflection that even a retrograde movement, if it be in the direction of an earlier tradition, undeservedly abandoned, may advance the truth, and I honestly think that in such a case it is not too paradoxical to put forward an accentuation of our past knowledge as an advance in science. Freud's psycho-analytical researches cover a vast field: they embrace not only the mental life of the individual but group psychology and study of human civilization; recently also he has extended them to the ultimate conception of life and death. As he proceeded to develop a modest psychotherapeutic method into a complete system of psychology and philosophy, it was inevitable that the pioneer of psycho-analysis should concentrate now on this and now on that field of investigation, disregarding everything else for the time being. But of course the withdrawal of attention from facts earlier arrived at by no means implied that he was abandoning or contradicting them. We, his disciples, however, are inclined to cling too literally to Freud's latest pronouncements, to proclaim the most recently discovered to be the sole truth and thus at times to fall into error. My own position in the psycho-analytical movement has made me a kind of cross between a pupil and a teacher, and perhaps this double rôle gives me the right and the ability to point out where we are tending to be one-sided and, without foregoing what is good in the new teaching, to plead that justice shall be done to that which proved its value in days past.

The technical method and the scientific theory of psycho-analysis are so closely and almost indissolubly bound up with one another that I cannot in this paper confine myself to the purely technical side; I must review part of the contents of this scientific doctrine as well.

[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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