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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.

Fischbein, S.V. Miramón, B. (2015). Theoretical Trajectories: Dreams and Dreaming from Freud to Bion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(4):967-992.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(4):967-992

Theoretical Trajectories: Dreams and Dreaming from Freud to Bion Language Translation

Susana Vinocur Fischbein and Beatriz Miramón

(Accepted for publication 1 May 2014)

This paper aims at comparing Freud's and Bion's conceptual models on dreams and dreaming. Beyond both authors’ shared disposition vis-à-vis problems posed by knowledge, a critical gap opens regarding their differing clinical practices. It is hypothesized that their ideas do not belong to irreconcilable paradigms, but that there are continuities besides discontinuities more frequently highlighted between Freudian statements on psychic functioning - described in his theory on dreams - and Bion's findings in his development of both the original theory and the connections between dreaming and thinking. Firstly, Freud's and Bion's epistemological sources are examined as well as their creative use and historical environment. Then certain general theoretical and clinical issues are considered concerning their theories on dreams, the evolution of their ideas and corresponding clinical contexts. In a third section, their confluences and dissimilarities are dealt with, including clinical vignettes belonging to the authors to illustrate their interpretative modes of working. This is meant to show both an implicit theoretical-clinical complementarity and the fact that, though their routes bifurcate about the function of dreams, there remain connecting paths. Lastly, the final remarks review certain issues that have frequently been controversial between these lines of thought.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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