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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.

Freud, S. (1909). Some General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume IX (1906-1908): Jensen's ‘Gradiva’ and Other Works, 227-234.

Freud, S. (1909). [SEI227a1]Some General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume IX (1906-1908): Jensen's ‘Gradiva’ and Other Works, 227-234

Some General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks (1909 [1908])

[SEI227a1]Some General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks Book Information Previous Up Next Language Translation

Sigmund Freud

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[SEI227a2]Editor's Note to "Some General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks"

[SEI227a3]Allgemeines Über Den Hysterischen Anfall

[SEI227a4](a) German Editions:

[SEI227a5](1908 Probable date of composition.)

[SEI227a6]1909 Z. Psychother. med. Psjchol., 1 (1) [January], 10-14.

[SEI227a7]1909 S.K.S.N., 2, 146-150. (1912, 2nd ed.; 1921, 3rd ed.)

[SEI227a8]1924 G.S., 5, 255-260.

[SEI227a9]1941 G.W., 7, 235-240.

[SEI227a10](b) English Translation:

[SEI227a11]‘General Remarks on Hysterical Attacks’

[SEI227a12]1924 C.P., 2, 100-104. (Tr. D. Bryan.)

[SEI227a13]The present translation, with a slightly changed title, is a modified version of the one published in 1924.

[SEI227a14]This paper was contributed by Freud at the invitation of Albert Moll to the first number of a new periodical which he was founding. Some months earlier, on April 8, 1908, Freud had spoken on the same subject at a meeting of the Vienna Psycho-Analytical Society. His last discussion of it had been in Section IV of the Breuer and Freud ‘Preliminary Communication(1893a) to the Studies on Hysteria. The present paper is one of those highly condensed, almost schematic, works in which we can detect the seeds of later developments. (See especially Section B.) But Freud did not return again to the actual theme of hysterical attacks till twenty years later, in his discussion of Dostoevsky's ‘epileptic’ attacks (1928b).


[SEI227a16]When one carries out the psycho-analysis of a hysterical woman patient whose complaint is manifested in attacks, one soon becomes convinced that these attacks are nothing else but phantasies translated into the motor sphere, projected on to motility and portrayed in pantomime.

[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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