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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.

Meltzer, D. (1986). The Analytical World: Institutions and Limitations. J. Anal. Psychol., 31(3):263-265.

(1986). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 31(3):263-265

The Analytical World: Institutions and Limitations

D. Meltzer

Those who know Michael Fordham and his professional history better than I do must judge for themselves whether what follows is in his praise or has a more ambiguous import, but I will protest at the outset that it is intended as an expression of my admiration. To my limited knowledge he seems to have been able to function outstandingly in all three areas, clinical, theoretical and organisational, in an integrated and therefore sincere way. This, I will claim, is the basis for the sort of authenticity which makes the maximum contribution and does the minimum damage in any field of work where organisation is a necessary element.

In reviewing what I do know of the history of other outstanding figures, particularly Freud, Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, I am struck by certain similarities to one another. The passion with which they carried on their clinical work in the seclusion of their consulting rooms, as scientists in the laboratory and artists in the studio, was clearly outstanding. All three also clearly participated in the messianic spirit and were driven to sacrifice their leisure and privacy to communicate their experiences in a form sufficiently generalised to be mistakenly called theories. Further, all three were persons of magnetism, charisma, which drew to them colleagues and admirers, camp-followers and apostles, spoilers and madmen, forcing all three of them into the political arena. It is certainly true that Freud had a Mosaic taste for leadership, Mrs Klein had the fierceness of a lioness for her cubs with respect to her ideas, and Bion could not escape being ‘an experienced officer’ naturally decorated by the regard of his troops, ‘loaded with honours and sunk without a trace’.

In my opinion all three failed in their intention to serve psychoanalysis by virtue of the unintegrated state of their leadership functioning, with the consequence that they fostered elitism and schismatic tendencies.

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