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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.

Abbasi, A. (2005). DISAPPEARING PERSONS: SHAME AND APPEARANCE. By Benjamin Kilborne, Ph.D. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002. 192 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 74(3):905-909.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(3):905-909

DISAPPEARING PERSONS: SHAME AND APPEARANCE. By Benjamin Kilborne, Ph.D. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002. 192 pp.

Review by:
Aisha Abbasi

Shame may be described as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous—done by oneself or another”; it is useful to distinguish it from embarrassment, which “usually refers to a feeling less painful than that of shame—associated with less serious situations, often of a social nature.” In the same realm, mortification “is a more painful feeling, akin to shame, but also more likely to arise from specifically social circumstances … [as in] ‘His mortification at being singled out for rebuke.’” Yet another similar but distinct feeling is that of humiliation, which may be understood as “mortification at being humbled in the estimation of others.”

Are these distinctions significant? I believe that they are of immense clinical value in understanding, with exquisite clarity, exactly what a patient is feeling at a given moment and in helping her sharpen her own awareness of her feelings. In the difficult journey of identifying patients' affects, defining them correctly, and understanding them, Disappearing Persons: Shame and Appearance provides useful theoretical and technical concepts, rather like beams of light brightening a murky path.

From his vantage point as a clinical psychoanalyst, and drawing richly upon his background in anthropology, history, and literature, Kilborne has written a complex book, illustrating his thinking with regard to “shame phenomena” (p.

[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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