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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.

de M’Uzan, M. (2019). Interpreting: for whom, and why?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 100(4):736-743.

(2019). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 100(4):736-743

Interpreting: for whom, and why?

Michel de M’Uzan

It is conceivable that interpretation in psychoanalysis forms part of a vast hermeneutic question. Reflections based on this position are undeniably enriching for psychoanalysis in general. My statement, however, is more limited, for what I am essentially concerned with here is the analyst’s interpretive activity in the analytic situation. Now while the communications delivered in colloquiums or congresses are often brilliant, and even if they are a source of pleasure, they do not always contribute anything tangible to practice itself. I have thus been led to wonder, with myself primarily in mind and not without a certain irony, if our exchanges in these diverse circumstances are not comparable to the intellectual operations required by the game of chess, which are only useful for the game of chess and strictly for nothing else. If that is the case, then our activity in our colloquiums simply ensures that our exchanges of ideas in the following colloquiums will be of better quality. Of course, I am not putting forward this hypothesis without reservations, but it seems to me that if we consider the concrete conditions of interpretation in analytic treatments, we are justified in giving it some attention. Indeed there exists a sort of tension that is no doubt fruitful between, on the one hand, the innovations, theoretical audacity and technical boldness legitimated in part by the cross-fertilization of ideas that occurs during our meetings and, on the other, ordinary practice whose foundations are assured.

[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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