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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.

Frenkel, R.S. (2000). Homosexual Object Choice: Observations from the Analysis of Three Bisexual Women. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 9(3):331-349.

(2000). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 9(3):331-349

Clinical Papers

Homosexual Object Choice: Observations from the Analysis of Three Bisexual Women

Rhoda S. Frenkel, M.D.

The psychoanalysis of three women who were bisexual provides the opportunity to explore some common factors in their choice of a lesbian lifestyle. It merits emphasis that I do not propose them as representative of the whole homosexual population, which in my opinion is quite diverse. This paper will focus on why these three patients chose a lesbian lifestyle, when in their early and young adult life they were heterosexual; and moreover continued to find the act of heterosexual sex, intercourse, more pleasurable. Their choice of a lesbian lifestyle provides important analytic data which require us to reexamine and help redefine issues of drive and object relations. Although the sexual relationships were satisfying and orgastic the data provide impressive evidence that the gratification of their object relationships outweighed their instinctual drive. The basis for this review relates to the implications for psychoanalytic theory for human development in both men and women.

In previous analytic studies of object choice in women (1991a, b, 1992, 1993, 1996), I proposed that the separation between instinctual drives and object relationships may be arbitrary. These analyses, conducted from the perspective of traditional instinctual drive theory, provided extensive clinical and related data. The data indicated that the ongoing conflict separating traditional analytic theory, which emphasizes the motivational force of instinctual drives, and those theories, that emphasize the power of object relationships, is artificial.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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