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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.

Kessler, L. (2016). Commentary on ‘The Case for Neuropsychoanalysis’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1145-1147.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1145-1147

Commentary on ‘The Case for Neuropsychoanalysis’ Related Papers

Luba Kessler, M.D.

Dear Editor,

As a psychoanalyst intrigued by the hyphen in the neuro-psychoanalysis I welcomed the discussion for and against ‘The case for neuropsychoanalysis’ (2015), but was rather demoralized by the absence of the ‘meeting of the minds’ on two sides of it.

Yovell, Solms and Fotopoulou seemed to do disservice to their case of the usefulness of the neuropsychoanalysis by substituting psychological operations (repression) with proposed organic causation of changed brain morphology (of the hippocampus) in their clinical illustration. To psychoanalysts such as Blass and Carmeli (2015) who are skeptical of the conceptual and clinical contribution of the neurosciences to psychoanalysis, this gave cause for renewed opposition, and even alarm.

Something seems amiss. There is probably an existing consensus that each discipline speaks its own language, not translatable into the other because neither the organic nor the psychic realm has equivalence in the other. This, indeed, is what Yovell et al. say on p. 1522 in ‘Points of agreement’, namely that: “Psychoanalysis and neurosciences … employ different methodologies to investigate two complementary aspects of the human mind - the subjective and the objective, neither of which is reducible to the other or more real than the other”.

What then is the lingua franca to bridge the hyphen? Could the Jacksonian view championed in the Yovell et al. article provide one? What if instead of saying “two complementary aspects of the human mind” we were to say that the two disciplines represent two levels of functional organization of the human mind? Thinking of them as functional organizations, each in its own realm, gives each own autonomy yet also correspondence with the other.

[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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