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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.

Greenfield, R.M. (2019). A Timely Integration: Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychoanalysis: A Review of “The Dissociative Mind in Psychoanalysis,” Edited by Elizabeth F. Howell and Sheldon Itzkowitz. Psychoanal. Perspect., 16(1):98-102.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 16(1):98-102

Book Review

A Timely Integration: Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychoanalysis: A Review of “The Dissociative Mind in Psychoanalysis,” Edited by Elizabeth F. Howell and Sheldon Itzkowitz

Robert M. Greenfield, PhD, LCSW

Imagine the impact on the field of psychoanalysis if Freud had not revised his 1893 theory that posited that the source of hysteria involved childhood seductions, with a theory that privileged hysteria as caused by repressed, and therefore unconscious, childhood sexual fantasies, in effect grossly minimizing his patients’ allegations of childhood sexual abuse. How would Freud have dealt with the alleged perpetrators? Would he have gone on to privilege the unconscious as his object of investigation? And of importance, how might this have influenced his theories of psychoanalytic technique, psychoanalytic data, and psychoanalytic outcomes?

These compelling questions are taken up in The Dissociative Mind in Psychoanalysis: Understanding and Working with Trauma, coedited by Elizabeth F. Howell and Sheldon Itzkowitz, two preeminent traumatologists, psychoanalysts, and authors, along with a bevy of cutting-edge contributors.

Today’s beginning and advanced psychoanalytic clinicians, in ever-increasing frequency, are encountering patients who have experienced a panoply of traumas and suffering from dissociation and dissociative disorders. This increase in trauma-based dissociation has created a burgeoning interest among psychoanalysts to better understand the history and etiology of dissociation and treat patients with trauma-based dissociation and dissociative disorders. This book, in seeking to address these clinical concerns, delivers on many counts.


[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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