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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.

S., A. (1942). General: Tore Ekman. 'Phänomenologisches und Psychoanalytisches zum Problem des Mitleids.' ('Phenomenological and Psycho-Analytical Aspects of the Problem of Sympathy.') Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse und Imago, 1941, Bd. XXVI, Heft 3/4, S. 275–285.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 23:87-88.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: General: Tore Ekman. 'Phänomenologisches und Psychoanalytisches zum Problem des Mitleids.' ('Phenomenological and Psycho-Analytical Aspects of the Problem of Sympathy.') Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse und Imago, 1941, Bd. XXVI, Heft 3/4, S. 275–285.

(1942). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 23:87-88

General: Tore Ekman. 'Phänomenologisches und Psychoanalytisches zum Problem des Mitleids.' ('Phenomenological and Psycho-Analytical Aspects of the Problem of Sympathy.') Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse und Imago, 1941, Bd. XXVI, Heft 3/4, S. 275–285.

A. S.

The phenomenological approach to mental states consists of a very accurate, detailed and exhaustive description and classification of them and thus provides a rich field of material for psycho-analytical investigation, which is chiefly concerned with their causation and dynamics.

Among such states that of sympathy has been

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very fully dealt with by Scheler. He distinguishes between (1) sharing a grief in common with another person, as when both parents mourn equally the loss of their child, (2) taking part in another person's grief in the sense of feeling compassion for him and (3) feeling another person's grief through direct emotional contagion. He thinks that feeling sympathy in the first two senses immunizes the subject from feeling it in the third sense of emotional contagion, since they pre-suppose that he has retained his existence as a separate individual. For Scheler regards the feeling of oneness (or identification) with another person as the basis rather than the consequence of such a contagion. But this does not apply to pseudo-sympathy, which often involves an identification with the other person's grief in order to accentuate the subject's own sufferings. Some phenomenologists however, think that sympathy is felt by means of identification.

Psycho-analysts take wider views and ascribe it not only to identification but to a reaction to sadism and even to an endeavour to get rid of an identification. Various psycho-analytical attempts to trace the origin of the feeling are open to criticism; but the best account has been given by Jekels, who divides sympathy into two kinds—one felt through identification and the other through objectification—and who describes the steps by which the second kind is arrived at as a process of getting rid, by projection and identification with the super-ego, of the primary emotional contagion from the object of sympathy (or identification with him), which is based upon masochism and a sense of guilt.

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Article Citation

S., A. (1942). General. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 23:87-88

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