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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.

Ferenczi, S. (1917). Letter from Sándor Ferenczi to Sigmund Freud, May 27, 1917. The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi Volume 2, 1914-1919, 208-209.

Ferenczi, S. (1917). Letter from Sándor Ferenczi to Sigmund Freud, May 27, 1917. The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi Volume 2, 1914-1919 , 208-209

Letter from Sándor Ferenczi to Sigmund Freud, May 27, 1917 Book Information Previous Up Next

Sándor Ferenczi

Budapest, May 27, 1917

Dear Professor,

The apartment in Csorba should be regarded as assured, according to Dr. Lévy, Sr. He advanced you 200 crowns as a deposit, which I will deduct from my honorarium for this month, so that you will owe me the money.

I had a telephone conversation with Dr. Freund, in which we decided the following about your summer:

Since the apartment in Csorba will be rented only until August 20, you could go for a follow-up cure to the Plattensee—health resort Balatonföldvár—where around August 25 Dr. Freund's villa (three rooms, good food) becomes available. Things have been taken care of for the time in between. Dr. Freund has a villa near Budapest,1 which he will set up appropriately for the days of your planned stay here. You could spend all of September at the Plattensee.

Reassure your wife, there are no linguistic or other difficulties in Csorba. If you permit, I intend to try to get you a workroom—if not in the same villa. My publisher, Dick, will send you a travel guide on the Tátra spas.

—It is not beyond the realm of possibility that in the near future I will be successful, by means of a munitions transport at the Vienna arsenal, in having more important provisions than bread (sugar, lard, flour) sent to your address. It won't be goose liver.

I have a personal gripe with the military. Yesterday, very suddenly, they ordered me to Neupest2 as head of the mental hospital. I want to do everything possible to reverse this.

[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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