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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.

Jones, B. (2017). The Feeling Brain: Selected Papers on Neuropsychoanalysis by Mark Solms Karnac Books, London, 2015; 240 pp; £23.04. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(2):556-559.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(2):556-559

The Feeling Brain: Selected Papers on Neuropsychoanalysis by Mark Solms Karnac Books, London, 2015; 240 pp; £23.04

Review by:
Barry Jones

One hundred and twenty years ago, Freud commenced his transition from neurologist to psychoanalyst and furnished us with his ‘Project for a scientific psychology’ of the mind. So began a necessary divergence from the dominant biological doctrine of the day. The feeling brain attempts to provide us with an accessible bridge back, between these two pursuits and between brain and mind, through an exploration of the various facets of the emerging discipline of neuropsychoanalysis. Solms and colleagues seek, in doing so, not to “prove Freud right or wrong but rather to finish the job he started; namely of introducing the psyche to the field of neuropsychology”.

The collected papers presented together raise to our awareness the potential for that process to become more fully realized, with the trajectory of discussion focused first on neurological and then psychiatric conditions before the implications for the understanding of normal mental functioning are considered. Through this broad arc, detractors and naysayers are anticipated and at points, countered. The fact that their identities move between neuroscientist, behaviorist and even psychoanalyst, relates no doubt to the discipline of neuropsychoanalysis itself, as not wholly represented within any of the other fields. In considering the place for psychoanalytic understanding, Solms limits himself almost exclusively to those findings of Freud, drawing upon a similar capacity to integrate these different fields into something new.

[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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