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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.

De Saussure, R. (1949). Dictators and Disciples. From Caesar to Stalin: By Gustav Bychowski. New York: International Universities Press, 1948. 264 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:94-95.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:94-95

Dictators and Disciples. From Caesar to Stalin: By Gustav Bychowski. New York: International Universities Press, 1948. 264 pp.

Review by:
Raymond De Saussure

The dictators include Caesar, Cromwell, Robespierre, Hitler and Stalin. Excepting Stalin, all of them have been adored by fanatic followers and have then been killed.

The chief interest in the book is the chapter of conclusions wherein Bychowski summarizes the characteristics of the dictators and their followers. After wars or revolutions, the collective ego of some nations, weakened in its feeling of security and having regressed to a primitive stage of development, inclines toward leaning on an individual who ascribes to himself the attributes of magic and total omnipotence. His image replaces the ego ideal which has been shaken by the social crises preceding the dictatorship. The group accepts the new ruler because it finds outlets for repressed sadomasochism. Aggression is rationalized ideologically and by projection. Because of the regression the infallibility of the dictator restores security and faith to the group. 'Like a hypnotist, the ruler infuses the masses with his own desires, ideals, hatreds and resentments.' The relationship between the masses and the dictator is based on a complete reciprocity. The masses make him feel omnipotent and he makes them the strongest and wisest nation in the world. It is a process of mutual identification; moreover, both are bound by ties of common guilt and anxieties that are defended by delusions of grandeur and persecution.

Dictators, however different, have in common excessive narcissism, aggressive hatred and lust for power. These conceal manifest weaknesses and insecurities, based on infantile frustration and consequent inadequacies in virility. The dictator, like the artist, remains fixed to his infantile emotional conflicts, never relieves them except in acting out so that they provide continual fuel for his activity. The personality of a dictator seems to be paranoid psychotic; what distinguishes him from a psychotic is the possibility of acting out his fantasies in reality.

The last pages of the book are devoted to prophylaxis. It is regrettable that the author has limited himself to generalities about educating the masses.

[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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