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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.

Bodner, G. (2017). Panel Report, IPA Congress Buenos Aires 2017: Intimacy and Technology: Developing a Psychoanalytic Dialogue. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(6):1800-1802.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(6):1800-1802

Panel Report, IPA Congress Buenos Aires 2017: Intimacy and Technology: Developing a Psychoanalytic Dialogue

Guillermo Bodner

Chair: Gustavo Jarast

Presenters: Kamran Alipanahi, Jacqueline Amati Mehler and John Churcher

Reporter: Guillermo Bodner

The impetuous development of communication technologies in recent years has had an immense influence on people's lives, both individually and socially. Time zones, space, and distance are transformed as unique and novel technical devices flood the market. It is obvious that this has had consequences on our way of living or sharing intimacy and also on our way of understanding psychoanalytic treatment. Gustavo Jarast, who chaired the panel, briefly referred to these points before introducing the panellists. Jacqueline Amati-Mehler pointed out that due to a greater knowledge of primitive areas of psychic functioning, psychoanalysis has focused its attention on those areas. This greater knowledge has a powerful impact on the analyst's countertransference. The analysis of these processes requires greater containment and spatial closeness. Quoting G. Russell (2015) she said: “A prime concern with technologically-mediated treatment points out is that the elimination of co-present bodies largely confines the psychoanalytic process to ‘states of mind’ rather than ‘states of being’. It is when one can dwell in a ‘state of being’ that one can take part in the psychoanalytic process of communicating with oneself and the other”. Intimate relationships rely on significant implicit non-verbal components, which only a co-presence allows to be perceived. Deep vicissitudes are most likely to be evidenced in a close relationship with another, while defensive distance can elude all the evidence connected to early functions. Amati-Mehler also wondered about the impact that the “Skype-analysis” can have on our method, on the identity of candidates trained with these technical changes and on our specific practice.

[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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