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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.

Rector, L.J. (1996). Chapter 15 The Function of Early Selfobject Experiences in Gendered Representations of God. Progress in Self Psychology, 12:249-268.

(1996). Progress in Self Psychology, 12:249-268

Chapter 15 The Function of Early Selfobject Experiences in Gendered Representations of God

Lallene J. Rector, Ph.D.

As though the world had not riddles enough, we are set the new problem of understanding how these other people [religious believers] have been able to acquire their belief in the Divine Being [Freud, 1939].

Since the beginning of psychoanalysis, various attempts have been made to explain the predilection of many persons to seek meaning, consolation, and inspiration in religion. Of historical and contemporary interest has been the experience of an individual's relationship to the sacred, or to a Divine Other. Who and what is God to the individual? What does one believe and feel about God? More importantly, what does God feel about him or her? How are these beliefs formed and what changes them?

This chapter addresses a particular aspect of the subjective experience of an anthropomorphized god-image, that is, the significance of gendered representations of God and the role of early selfobject experiences in an individual's preference for a masculine or feminine god-image.

[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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