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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.

Reichbart, R. (2011). The Importance of a “Broken Heart”. Psychoanal. Rev., 98(3):351-373.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Review, 98(3):351-373

The Importance of a “Broken Heart”

Richard Reichbart, Ph.D.

Why do fools fall in love?

Why do birds sing so gay?

Lovers awake at the break of day?

Why do they fall in love?

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

… we are never so defenceless against suffering as when we love, never so helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our loved object or its love.

—Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

Over the years, I have been struck by the narratives of various patients, irrespective of age, gender, or diagnosis, in which a “broken heart” has determined the patient's subsequent object choice as well as his or her fear to engage in an intense love relationship again. Each of these patients was afraid, often consciously, of the full force of romantic love and of the state of being in love because of the traumatic pain and disappointment experienced with a loved object in the past. Some of these patients had experienced romantic love during adolescence, the time memorialized in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and about which Kulish (1998) has written, in an article on the developmental significance of adolescent “first love”. But other patients experienced it in young adulthood or further along.

Love of course can travel many roads. I am only talking here about one type of experience, and I do not contend it is a universal one.

[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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