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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.

Allison, G.H. Ullman, J.C. (1974). The Intuitive Psychoanalytic Perspective of Galdós in Fortunata and Jacinta. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:333-343.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:333-343

The Intuitive Psychoanalytic Perspective of Galdós in Fortunata and Jacinta

George H. Allison and Joan Connelly Ullman


Beginning with the text of this great novel, Fortunata and Jacinta, and singling out for study the developing tragedy of Maximiliano, we began our focus with one aspect of Galdós' creativity: his knowledge of psychosis. In the course of our research, we found that Galdós displays a unique 'Freudian' clinical psychiatric acumen that is woven into the fabric of his novels, which has been noted before by Garma and by non-psychoanalytic authors. Galdós' descriptions of delusions, hallucinations, fantasies and dreams are clinically valid and deeply moving. He demonstrates in his novels an unconscious knowledge of 'the laws, rules and dimensions of the unconscious roots of human behaviour' (Barchilon, 1971). For Galdós, writes Gullón (1960), 'to dream is not to separate oneself from life but to enter it through another door, by means of a shadowy chamber, illuminated for one instant by the ray of light of the dreamer'.

Galdós' portrayal of Maximiliano stands by itself as a major literary creation. Within the structure of the great novel, Maximiliano's gradual retreat from reality adds a major dimension for it both logically develops out of, and contributes to, the plot. It is, in short, a beautifully drawn and at times profoundly poetic characterization of a human being locked in the classic struggle against inner and outer forces he is not able to control. The psychological veracity of this characterization and the clinical validity of the 'case history' are worthy of special note, as are other psychiatric and psychoanalytically astute characterizations in his novels.

[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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