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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. (1917). A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 217-235.

Freud, S. (1917). [SEN217a1]A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 217-235

[SEN217a1]A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams Book Information Previous Up Next Language Translation

Sigmund Freud

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[SEN217a2]Editor's Note to "A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams"

[SEN217a3](a) German Editions:

[SEN217a4]1917 Metapsychologische Ergänzung Zur Traumlehre Int. Z. Psychoanal., 4 (6), 277-87.

[SEN217a5]1918 Metapsychologische Ergänzung Zur Traumlehre S.K.S.N., 4, 339-55. (1922, 2nd ed.)

[SEN217a6]1924 Metapsychologische Ergänzung Zur Traumlehre G.S., 5, 520-34.

[SEN217a7]1924 Metapsychologische Ergänzung Zur Traumlehre Technik und Metapsychol., 242-56.

[SEN217a8]1931 Metapsychologische Ergänzung Zur Traumlehre Theoretische Schriften, 141-56.

[SEN217a9]1946 Metapsychologische Ergänzung Zur Traumlehre G.W., 10, 412-26.

[SEN217a10](b) English Translation:

[SEN217a11]‘Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams’ 1925 C.P., 4, 137-151. (Tr. C. M. Baines.)

[SEN217a12]The present translation, though based on that of 1925, has been very largely rewritten.

[SEN217a13]This paper, together with the next one (‘Mourning and Melancholia’), seems to have been written over a period of eleven days between April 23 and May 4, 1915. It was not published until two years later. As its title implies, it is essentially an application of Freud's newly-stated theoretical scheme to the hypotheses put forward in Chapter VII of The Interpretation of Dreams. But it resolves itself largely into a discussion of the effects produced by the state of sleep on the different ‘systems’ of the mind.

[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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