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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.

Correale, A. (2017). Obituary for Salomon Resnik. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(6):1817-1822.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(6):1817-1822


Obituary for Salomon Resnik

Antonello Correale

When the loss of an important figure, such as Salomon Resnik occurs, the first thought that comes to mind, to compensate at least partially for the pain of that loss, is to remember his work, his thoughts and his profound influence on the field of psychoanalysis and psychiatry.

Resnik was born in Argentina, and came early in his life to Europe where he lived in London. It was in London that he underwent a long analysis with Herbert Rosenfeld. He had already trained and qualified as an analyst in Argentina and this original formation remained informative in his practice. He later moved to Paris where he married a fellow psychoanalyst, Anna Taquini. The experiences of these different contexts had a deep influence on him personally, his thought and on his way of working in analysis. He had connections with Venice, where he kept a house and held many supervisions. He also had the fortune of meeting many important psychoanalysts, in particular Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion. He spoke often and with affection of the influence these authors had on his thought.

Resnik was interested mostly in psychosis and analyzed many psychotic patients. He wrote many papers and books about psychosis and autism. He was supervisor of many community mental health centers and was much known in Italy especially for this important part of his work.


[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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