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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.

Greenacre, P. (1968). Perversions—General Considerations Regarding their Genetic and Dynamic Background. Psychoanal. St. Child, 23:47-62.

(1968). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 23:47-62

Perversions—General Considerations Regarding their Genetic and Dynamic Background

Phyllis Greenacre, M.D.

This paper will attempt to summarize ideas concerning the nature of perversions, especially emphasizing the genetic and dynamic aspects. The multiplicity of the forms and the varied intensities in which perversions appear may be confusing in efforts to understand their essential character. Drawing on a fairly wide range of clinical pictures from those cases which seem but slightly deviant from the normal to those extreme forms of perversion which may startle by their bizarre characteristics, the attention of the investigator must first focus on relatively pronounced cases in which perverse development is clear and definite.

I shall refer first to fetishism, which next to homosexuality is seen more frequently in patients under treatment than the other more florid perversions. Patients rarely seek treatment because of it, however, and, as Freud (1927) remarked, many patients regard their practice as abnormal but not as a symptom. It is uncovered—or rather, comes under scrutiny—in the course of working with other disturbances. In a review of the literature (1953) I found that in only one case was fetishism reported as a presenting symptom (Romm, 1949), and then it was due to the rebellion of the wife, who was obliged to participate in the fetishistic ritual which drove the patient to treatment.


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