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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.

Fine, B.D. (1962). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 31:596-597.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:596-597

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Bernard D. Fine

DISCUSSION: Dr. Niederland was complimented on his thought-provoking, fascinating, and carefully documented study. Dr. K. R. Eissler compared the study to his research on Goethe and Leonardo da Vinci. He felt Schliemann was an extremely talented man, possibly a 'near genius', and emphasized that some problems of creativity may be seen with even more clarity in the near genius than in the genius.

Dr. Maurice Friend stated that Dr. Niederland's discovery and understanding of the death of the eight-year-old brother was a major addition to our understanding of Schliemann's life and psychopathology. He also felt that the material attests to a persistence of the family romance enacted by means of the 'collective alternates'. He questioned the existence of a depression at nine years, and felt rather that it was predominantly a loss reaction and an effort to reconstitute the lost mother. Dr. Friend related the traveling mania to the infantile desire to defy the father and escape with the mother to a distant land where the father could not disturb them.

Dr. Sidney Tarachow pointed out that most reported necrophiliacs and lust murderers are interested in women's bodies, with the goals of love and identification with the mother imago. Schliemann had the additional problem of enforced identification with his dead brother, and was impelled to prove that the dead were not only alive but indestructible, having a continuing identity. In this connection Dr. Tarachow discussed Marie Bonaparte's differentiation between the lust murderer and the necrophiliac: the former identifies with the sadistic father in the sexual act which he now acts out himself, while the latter allows another to kill the mother first and takes second place (after the father). Schliemann seems to belong to the latter, more passive group.

Dr. Elisabeth Geleerd felt the paper was an important contribution to applied psychoanalysis, as well as a service to the sciences of archæology and history.

[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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