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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.

Paulsen, L. (1984). Jaffé, A. (Ed.) Word and Image. Princeton University Press. 1979. Pp. 238.. J. Anal. Psychol., 29(2):202-203.

(1984). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 29(2):202-203

Jaffé, A. (Ed.) Word and Image. Princeton University Press. 1979. Pp. 238.

Review by:
Lola Paulsen

Word and Image is, like all Bollingen Publications, an immaculate and luxurious volume. It has been published in hard and paperback in equal (rather formidable) format. It contains the material which formed the 1975 memorial exhibition arranged at the Helmshause in Zürich, Basel and Bern to mark the centenary of Jung's birth (26th July). In a foreword Aniela Jaffe draws attention to the different requirements of an exhibition and a pictorial volume. Some material shown at the exhibition had to be replaced by different items.

The quotations that make up a good part of the text of this volume are taken chiefly from Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections; from letters, and from passages of the Collected Works. The book also contains a small number of texts which have not been published before. The texts as well as some reproductions of Jung's own impressive paintings of landscapes and pictorial ‘reflections’ from the unconscious make an accomplished document which will be gratefully received and valued by different people for different reasons—and not only ‘reasons’.

What one is looking for, finding or missing depends on such circumstances as, for instance, whether you have known Jung personally, whether his deep, guttural Swiss voice reproduces itself spontaneously in your mind and ear when you read certain passages; whether you remember Jung as middle-aged, old or very old. Or, on the other hand, whether you open this volume in order to get to know Jung more intimately, understand him more completely, having known him previously only through his Collected Works.

Having to review Words and Image I conscientiously went through its pages from cover to cover, which is in fact not the best way of appreciating it.

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