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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.

Steiner, J. (1985). Creativity and Perversion by Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel London: Free Association Books 1984 pp 172 Hardback £11.95, Paperback £5.95. Psychoanal. Psychother., 1(2):79-84.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 1(2):79-84

Creativity and Perversion by Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel London: Free Association Books 1984 pp 172 Hardback £11.95, Paperback £5.95

Review by:
John Steiner

This book by a leading French psycho-analyst is based on lectures and seminars written during the author's tenure of the Freud Professorship at University College London. It turns out to have more to say about perversion than about creativity which is not surprising since one of its central themes is the essential falseness of the pervert's creations. What she has to say about perversion is always interesting and gives a view of the subject which will be valued by English speaking readers.

Madame Chasseguet-Smirgel makes it clear from the start that she views perversion not simply as a type of aberrant sexuality but, as “an attitude of mind and a dimension of the human psyche, a temptation common to us all”. She emphasises the pervert's relationship with reality and she considers this reality to centre on the oedipus complex and to have as its bedrock the difference between the sexes and between the generations. “When the child comes to recognise the complementary nature of his parents genitality, he is reduced to feelings of his own smallness and inadequacy. Recognition of the difference between the sexes is thus bound up with recognition of the difference between the generations.”

“The perverse temptation leads one to accept pregenital desire and satisfactions (attainable by the small boy) as being equal to or even superior to genital desires and satisfactions (attainable only by the father). Erosion of the double difference between the sexes and the generations is the pervert's objective.

[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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