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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.

Reichmayr, J. (2001). IL MELANIESE: KLEIN E KLEINIANI NELLE LETTERE CIRCOLARI DI OTTO FENICHEL FINO AL 1938. Psicoter. Sci. Um., 35(2):35-54.

(2001). Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane, 35(2):35-54

IL MELANIESE: KLEIN E KLEINIANI NELLE LETTERE CIRCOLARI DI OTTO FENICHEL FINO AL 1938

Johannes Reichmayr

Come già ho detto in un precedente articolo , le lettere circolari di Fenichel dovevano servire a dare un quadro della situazione della psicoanalisi; sulla base di questa «diagnosi» occorreva adottare delle misure atte a scongiurare la rovina che incombeva sul movimento psicoanalitico e sull'Associazione psicoanalitica internazionale. La crisi constatata, come già detto, intorno alla metà degli anni Trenta, aveva raggiunto dimensioni tali da far temere una completa rovina, sia scientifica che organizzativa. Oltre alla minaccia di scissione del ramo americano dall'Associazione psicoanalitica internazionale, un chiaro sintomo di crisi era rappresentato dagli sviluppi che si stavano avendo in Inghilterra. Si doveva impedire una scissione con la psicoanalisi inglese: una politica tesa a creare un «fronte unitario» con l'Inghilterra avrebbe dovuto rafforzare la Ipa di fronte agli americani. Per questo motivo furono organizzate le «conferenze di scambio» tra Vienna e Londra. Una diversa situazione nei rapporti di forza avrebbe senz'altro condotto all'espulsione dei kleiniani dalla Ipa. Già nella metà degli anni Venti, Fenichel si era occupato delle concezioni di Melanie Klein e della «scuola inglese».

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