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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.

Wisotsky, M. (1958-1959). Symbolic Representation of Sexual Conflict. Psychoanal. Rev., 45D(4):125-126.

(1958-1959). Psychoanalytic Review, 45D(4):125-126

Notes & Comments

Symbolic Representation of Sexual Conflict

Review by:
Morris Wisotsky, Ph.D.

During the course of my work in a correctional institutional setting, I have had the occasion to interview and test many individuals whose reasons for incarceration are directly related to marital discord.

One such individual, a rather intelligent person, presented a long history of family disorganization. Since this was his first experience in a penal institution I asked him whether he was witnessing any difficulties in making an acceptable adjustment in these surroundings. Recognizing that many people who are imprisoned have difficulty in getting up early in the morning, I asked him whether this had caused him any problems. He then stated that although his occupation offered him the liberty of awakening at 9:30 A.M. in the morning for the past few years, he almost constantly arose at 5:45 A.M. He further states his insomnia may be related to his marital problem with his wife. Thus he says, “How can anyone sleep well when one is constantly fighting with his wife?” The examiner asked him why he awoke compulsively at the same time (5:45 A.M.) each morning. To this question, the patient could not give a plausible explanation.

The significance of this symptomatic act was not appreciated until the patient was required to draw some human figures as part of the general psychological examination. On one sheet of paper he drew a picture of a male figure. When asked to draw the female figure on a second sheet of paper, he rotated the paper 180o and made the drawing, although the upper portion was clearly indicated.

The symbolic representation of repressed emotional conflicts are often noted in drawings. The significance of numbers as indications of conflict is also noted in the literature. Thus, the hands of the clock at 9:30 are on the nine and the six, and the hands of the clock at 5:45 are inverted and placed on the six and nine. Sixty-nine (69) and ninety-six (96) are representative of the sexual activity often called “soixante-neuf” or mutual oral gratification.

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