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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.

Hanly, M.F. (2016). Sibling Rivalry, Separation, and Change in Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1057-1075.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1057-1075

Sibling Rivalry, Separation, and Change in Austen's Sense and Sensibility

Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly

(Accepted for publication 18 March 2015)

The paper explores a process of growth represented in the interplay of Jane Austen's characterizations of Marianne and Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, approaching the text through the lens of psychoanalytic theories on oedipal sibling rivalry, separation, and processes of change. A close reading of Sense and Sensibility tracks Marianne Dashwood's repudiation of any ‘second attachment’ as the surface of an unconscious fantasy, denying a rival for the mother's love. A psychoanalytic view contrasts Marianne's lack of separation from her mother, her use of denial and projection, and her near death after losing the man she loves, with her older sister Elinor Dashwood's capacities for depression, reflection, and greater acceptance of loss and separation. The narrative portrays Mrs. Dashwood's identification with and idealization of her daughter Marianne, which contribute to her oedipal sibling ‘victory’. In the language and structure of the novel, the projections, identifications, aggressions, and separations (conscious and unconscious) of the sisters in the vicissitudes of their adolescent loves and rivalries constitute a process of growth. Austen's novel brings to life, with the vividness and coherence of great literature, forces and fantasies in oedipal sibling rivalries, inspiring renewed attention to their subtle presence in the transference and countertransference of the psychoanalytic process.

[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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