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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.

Kestenberg, J.S. Brenner, I. (1986). Children who Survived the Holocaust—The Role of Rules and Routines in the Development of the Superego. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:309-316.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:309-316

Children who Survived the Holocaust—The Role of Rules and Routines in the Development of the Superego

Judith S. Kestenberg and Ira Brenner


Data from several sources were presented to elucidate the following thesis. The disruptions of rules and regulations in the lives of infants and children, born during the Holocaust, leave as an aftermath a recurring affecto-motor or somatic state of feeling badly which is conceptualized as being bad. The younger the child, the more likely he is, later in life to re-experience trauma as feeling bad, whereas feelings of emotional relief are remembered by things that made the child feel good, such as milk or sugar.

The superego that is built to a great extent on feelings of comfort and discomfort, on pain and pleasure, that come and go unaccountably, can become fragmented. In analysis an ego strength is revealed that was masked by a split in the superego. The ego of the child survivor can be quite resilient and flexible.

Children and adults suffered from a disintegration of the superego when their values were shattered in the extreme demoralization of a society of persecutors and victims. The parental fragmentation of the superego served survival, but it compounded the lack of integration of the superego-precursors in children. As adults regained a feeling of worth and could re-establish their old values and rebuild their superego, their children were greatly helped in integrating their own. Parenthood raised their aspirations and helped them to heal the rift in the superego.

[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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