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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.

Hoffman, R. (1977). Campbell, Joseph. The mythic image. Princeton University Press (Bollingen Series C), Princeton N.J., 1974. Pp. xii + 552. $45.00.. J. Anal. Psychol., 22(3):279-281.

(1977). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 22(3):279-281

Campbell, Joseph. The mythic image. Princeton University Press (Bollingen Series C), Princeton N.J., 1974. Pp. xii + 552. $45.00.

Review by:
Ruth Hoffman

Edited by:
Kenneth Lambert

This splendidly produced book—a heavyweight in more ways than one—is the 100th and last work in Bollingen Series C, which has been sponsored by the Bollingen Foundation to promote exploratory scholarship since 1943. It is appropriately dedicated to the president and vice-president of the former Foundation.

The book is divided into six parts, subdivided into chapters, and dealing with great themes like ‘The world as dream’, ‘The idea of cosmic order’, ‘The lotus and the rose’, ‘Transformation of the inner light’, ‘The sacrifice and the wakening’. Not a coffee table book, but a reference book for a library. Its author's declared aim has been ‘to let the spirit of the pictures rule and to arrange it so that the reader might enter into its pages at any turn he liked. The mythic themes illustrated are interpreted in the chapters, which are designed rather as settings for the works of art than as independent arguments; yet an argument is also developed, which the reader need not—yet may—decide to add to his enjoyment of the visual forms.’

This argument is brief: through dreams a door is opened to mythology and, like dreams, myths arise from an inward world unknown to waking consciousness; for that matter, so does life itself.

Whereas in Part I the imagery discussed is of generally known ‘elementary’ or ‘universal’ ideas (the world dream, world dreamer, great mother, miraculous child and resurrected hero) and in Parts II and III of specifically high culture themes (the mathematical round of space-time and the wakening of the spirit to a life transcending that round), Part IV deals with the psychological discussion of mythological thought and themes.

[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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