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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.

Wood, H. (2019). British psychoanalysis: new perspectives in the independent tradition. Psychoanal. Psychother., 33(1):65-71.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 33(1):65-71

British psychoanalysis: new perspectives in the independent tradition

Heather Wood

A patient once said to me that he couldn’t tell whether I was ‘a rigorous Kleinian or a woolly Winnicottian’. I was pleased that my orientation was not worn like a badge, but his comment left me thinking: why not a rigorous Independent? How does the Independent school within psychoanalysis attract the stereotype of ‘woolliness’, a term which implies a degree of contempt? These were the questions I had in mind as I approached this volume.

This is a new edition of Gregorio Kohon’s edited 1986 book, The British School of Psychoanalysis: The Independent Tradition. The original contains a rich and inspiring selection of classic papers, as well as his very welcome and clear introductory chapters on the history of the psychoanalytic movement in Great Britain, and an Independent view of countertransference. This edition is more than simply an updating. Seven of the papers in the first edition have been omitted, but in their place are six new chapters, four of these consisting of responses by analysts from ‘a younger generation’ to the classic papers; the remaining two are new chapters by Kohon and Rosine Perelberg that serve as an introduction to the new edition. The book is arranged into four sections: Early Environment, The Psychoanalytic Encounter, Regression and the Psychoanalytic Situation, and Female Sexuality. Kohon acknowledges in his introduction that he used idiosyncratic criteria for the original selection of papers: ‘a subjective appreciation of their theoretical and clinical value for my present way of thinking psychoanalytically’ (p. 5). Given his standing as a respected training analyst and author, it is interesting to see which papers have been pivotal in informing his work. Presumably, those papers that have made it into the second edition are those which, 30 years on, still have enduring relevance for him, but now he invites four analysts from a younger generation to present their own thoughts about the papers selected.

In his chapter on countertransference reproduced from the original volume (Chapter 5), Kohon notes that the Independents or ‘middle group’ (neither Kleinian nor Contemporary Freudian), have sometimes been referred to as a ‘muddled’ group. He accepts this charge, ‘since they start from a position of theoretical uncertainty with respect to their patients’ (p. 68).

[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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