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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. (1919). The ‘Uncanny’. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVII (1917-1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works, 217-256.

Freud, S. (1919). [SEQ217a1]The ‘Uncanny’. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVII (1917-1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works, 217-256

[SEQ217a1]The ‘Uncanny’ Book Information Previous Up Next Language Translation

Sigmund Freud

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[SEQ217a2]Editor's Note to "The ‘Uncanny’"

[SEQ217a3](a) German Editions:

[SEQ217a4]1919 Das Unheimiliche Imago, 5(5-6), 297-324.

[SEQ217a5]1922 Das Unheimiliche S.K.S.N., 5, 229-73.

[SEQ217a6]1924 Das Unheimiliche G.S., 10, 369-408.

[SEQ217a7]1924 Das Unheimiliche Dichtung und Kunst, 99-138.

[SEQ217a8]1947 Das Unheimiliche G.W., 12, 229-68.

[SEQ217a9](b) English Translation:

[SEQ217a10]‘The “Uncanny”’ 1925 C.P., 4, 368-407. (Tr. Alix Strachey.)

[SEQ217a11]The present translation is a considerably modified version of the one published in 1925.

[SEQ217a12]This paper, published in the autumn of 1919, is mentioned by Freud in a letter to Ferenczi of May 12 of the same year, in which he says he has dug an old paper out of a drawer and is re-writing it. Nothing is known as to when it was originally written or how much it was changed, though the footnote quoted from Totem and Taboo on p. 241 below shows that the subject was present in his mind as early as 1913. The passages dealing with the ‘compulsion to repeat’ (p. 234 ff.) must in any case have formed part of the revision. They include a summary of much of the contents of Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) and speak of it as ‘already completed’. The same letter to Ferenczi of May 12, 1919, announced that a draft of this latter work was finished, though it was not in fact published for another year. Further details will be found in the Editor's Note to Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Standard Ed.

[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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