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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.

Murphy, W.F. (1954). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953: Psychoanalysis and Legal Origins. William H. Desmonde. Pp. 52-63.. Psychoanal Q., 23:610-611.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953: Psychoanalysis and Legal Origins. William H. Desmonde. Pp. 52-63.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:610-611

International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953: Psychoanalysis and Legal Origins. William H. Desmonde. Pp. 52-63.

William F. Murphy

An attempt is made to elucidate further Freud's suggestion that an investigation of the secret prohibitions which are the basis of ancient Greek and Roman law would show that they originated in the will of the primal father. Three central legal-religious-political symbols originated in the primal crime, namely, the temple, the scepter, and the crown. The temple is considered the site of

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obsessive practices evolved to absolve mankind from the guilt of the primal crime. It represents the universe in microcosm and is the place where the priest, the omnipotent father figure, manipulated the universe magically through such practices as animal sacrifice or prayer. Its evolution is connected with the holy grove and with tree worship, features of which have appeared in all the world's great civilizations. The king of the wood at Nemea personified the oak on which grew the mistletoe. The aspirant to kingship had to cut off this mistletoe, which represented part of the god's body, and through victory in combat with the defender was entitled to win the love of Diana, the mother goddess. Hence, to succeed to the kingship and win the love of the mother goddess it was first necessary to castrate the father. The bough from the sacred tree is the original priest king's scepter and also the wand of the magician, and represents the father's phallus.

The original crown was a crown of leaves from the holy tree. The origin of the scepter and the crown can thus be traced back to the primal crime by showing that these regalia stem from ceremonies in connection with the castration of the oak tree god, who is a displacement of the father image. The sacred pillars of the temple are related to the ancient holy trees which survived in the columns of the Greek temples. The horns of consecration are architectural representatives of the heads of sacrificial animals placed in close juxtaposition to the capitals of the column. The habit of placing mementos under cornerstones is evolved from the expiatory sacrifices at the foundation of the temple.

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Article Citation

Murphy, W.F. (1954). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953. Psychoanal. Q., 23:610-611

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