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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.

Cavalli, A. (2005). Rodriguez De La Sierra, L. (ED). Child Analysis Today. Karnac: London & New York, 2004. Pp 115. Pbk. £12.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 50(3):400-401.

(2005). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(3):400-401

Rodriguez De La Sierra, L. (ED). Child Analysis Today. Karnac: London & New York, 2004. Pp 115. Pbk. £12.99.

Review by:
Alessandra Cavalli

In this slim volume six prominent child analysts from the three different schools of the British Psychoanalytical Society, inspired by three great contributors to child analysis, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein and D. W. Winnicott, have-been asked to reflect upon the importance of child analysis today and to provide an insight into the nature of their different approaches.

Their major differences are explored in the introduction. Kleinians believe in an infant who is object-related from the beginning of life, equipped with a rudimentary existing psychic activity (phantasy), which gives form to his instinctual life and elaborates external events internally. This infant has to come to terms with primary envy, the manifestation of the death instinct, which is the main cause of primitive anxiety: the fear of destroying himself and his objects. Kleinians address the internal relationships between objects and self through the analysis of the transference in children and in adult patients. Anna Freudians, on the other hand, postulate an infant sheltered in a primary narcissism at birth, who only accommodates the reality principle gradually. Object relations then become tenable. Anna Freudians stress the importance of developmental phases, and see the earlier form of conflict as external (the child's immature ego sides with his wishes and impulses, but is dependent on his external objects and gets into battle with them over the satisfactions of his needs and wishes). The resulting anxiety is fear of abandonment if object relations has not been established, and fear of the loss of the object's love if object constancy has been established.

[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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