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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.

Hendrick, I. (1936). Hulsey Cason. The Nightmare Dream: Psychological Monographs, V. 46, No. 5; Whole No. 209, 1935. 51 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 5:455-457.

(1936). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 5:455-457

Hulsey Cason. The Nightmare Dream: Psychological Monographs, V. 46, No. 5; Whole No. 209, 1935. 51 pp.

Review by:
Ives Hendrick

This is another conscientious effort to prove the superiority of a technique of systematic interrogation, tabulation, and statistical correlation of answers, to that of skillful psychoanalysis. The author stresses the bearing of his results on the conclusions of Freud, Jones, and other psychoanalysts. He purports to have studied their publications, but his discussion of their work does not indicate the study has been very thorough. He reiterates, for example, the statement that "the problems connected with the nightmare have on the whole been neglected by psychoanalysts" (p. 1). He accuses Freud of overlooking the unpleasantness of so common a type of dream as the nightmare in his eagerness to illustrate the wish-fulfillment theory. He calls Crile's work on the dreams of soldiers to the attention of analysts as evidence that not all dreams are sexually motivated, and is unaware of the work of Freud, Simmel, Kardiner, etc., on traumatic neuroses. Mr. Cason seems to believe his discovery that most details of the dream are related to waking experiences is a fact overlooked by Freud. He reviews Freud's distinction of manifest and latent content, but does not apply it in his discussion of his material. Nevertheless, he arrives at the agreeable conclusion (p. 47): "The procedures of experimental psychology seem superior in every way to the method of argument by analogy which is widely current in psychoanalysis." After this, it is rather startling that the author, "instead of regarding dreams as nothing more than repressed evil wishes directed against other people as Freud seems to do" (p.

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