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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.

First, E. (2010). Commentary on Paper by Lawrence J. Brown. Psychoanal. Dial., 20(6):683-694.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 20(6):683-694

Commentary on Paper by Lawrence J. Brown

Elsa First, M.A. and F.I.P.A. and L.P.

Brown's historical overview of post-Kleinian psychoanalysis traces key steps in the evolving and diverse practice of working in the psychoanalytic situation while regarding it as a two-person field. The Barangers' “The Analytic Situation as a Dynamic Field” is central to his narrative. I develop my understanding of the originality of their contribution in theorizing a situational unconscious, and of their continuing relevance for thinking about analytic listening and intersubjective collaboration. Brown presents a countertransference dream of his own along with the dream of a patient as an example of the Barangers' concept of the “shared unconscious fantasy” of the analytic couple. A detailed alternative reading of Brown's clinical vignette reveals an absence of fit with the Barangers' views on collaboration in the analytic situation. Some uses of Bion's “dreaming” and “becoming” are implicitly questioned as they risk encouraging the idealization of special states over process.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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