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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.

Schur, M. (1963). Marie Bonaparte—1882-1962. Psychoanal Q., 32:98-100.

(1963). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 32:98-100

Marie Bonaparte—1882-1962

Max Schur, M.D.

On September 21st, 1962 Marie Bonaparte died in Saint Tropez after a brief illness. We lost one of that rapidly shrinking circle of psychoanalysts who not only were Freud's students, but were privileged to become his friends and to play an important role in a critical period of his life.

Marie Bonaparte's unusual life, about whose early phases she has told us so much in her autobiographical studies, had as many facets as her scintillating personality. She was a lonely semiorphan in the midst of glamor and wealth; although a Bonaparte, she belonged to a branch of the family who cherished a tradition of freedom and rebellion. Her father, Roland Bonaparte, was a man of intensive interest in science. Her husband, Prince George of Greece and Denmark, was a close relative of most European royalty. Marie Bonaparte was equally at home at a royal wedding as at a committee meeting of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Such scientists as Le Bon, through whom she first became acquainted with Freud's work, Rigaud and Lacassagne from the Institute Curie, such statesmen as Aristide Briand were among her close friends. Many French and Greek men of letters as well as artists sought her friendship.

At an early age her insatiable curiosity was channeled into intellectual pursuits. She was an avid reader and had acquired an encyclopedic knowledge in many fields; but only after she had had a personal analysis, did all her faculties blossom, and was she able to achieve a high degree of original productivity. This was especially remarkable because she was already forty-three years old when she first met Freud.

Her bibliography contains over seventy original publications, not including her translations of Freud into French and the many translations of her papers and books into various languages.

[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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