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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.

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Results 1 - 30 of 67 for your search on ""Cavell, M."":

Cavell, M. (1998). Sublimation—A Borderline Concept. Joel Whitebook. Pp. 850-880. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):536-537. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Exploding the Triangle? Psychoanalytic Observations on Incest. Juan Eduardo Tesone. Pp. 836-849. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):536. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). The Bible between Literary Interpretation and the Analytic Process. Harmut Raguse. Pp. 817-835. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):536. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Sigmund Freud and Hans Blüher in Hitherto Unpublished Letters. John Neubauer. Pp. 123-148. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):533. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Psychoanalysis and Politics. Cornelius Castoriadis. Pp. 902-915. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):537. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Child Masturbation—A Genetic Viewpoint. With Special Reference to Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. Ralf Binswanger. Pp. 644-670. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):534. […]
Cavell, M. (2003). Response. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(3):766-767. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). A Discussion of Music and Use of the “Name-of-the-Father” in Bach's “Well-Tempered Clavier.” Sebastian Leikert. Pp. 218-243. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):533. […]
Cavell, M. (2018). Learning about Human Nature and Analytic Technique from Mothers and Babies: By Nara Amalia Caron and Rita Sobreira Lopes. London: Karnac Books, 2014. 282 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 87(2):390-392. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Pecuniary Pathologies and the Debt Trap. Compulsive Buying: A Neglected Topic in Psychoanalysis. Rolf Haubl. Pp. 916-953. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):537-538. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Fatherless Society, Instinct, Subject. On Jessica Benjamin's Critique of Central Psychoanalytic/Sociopsychological Categories. Hans-Joachim Busch. Pp. 881-901. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):537. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). The Power of Fantasy and the Fantasy of Power. Freud and the Politics of Religion. José Brunner. Pp. 786-816. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):535-536. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Abandonment to the Inanimate Object. On the Conceptual and Diagnostic Definition of Addiction. Roland Voigtel. Pp. 715-741. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):535. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Beyond the Pleasure Principle—Reading and Re-reading. Elfriede Löchel. Pp. 681-714. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):534. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Suspended Attention, Models and Theories in the Psychoanalytic Perception Process. Harmuth König. Pp. 337-375. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):533-534. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Working through the Nazi Past: Germany's Psychoanalytic Community. A Distant View from Close Quarters. Martin Wangh. Pp. 97-122. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):532-533. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). The Development of the Affect System. Ulrich Moser and Ilka von Zeppelin. Pp. 32-84. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):532. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). How Freud Left Science. Clark Glymour. Pp. 461-489. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):531-532. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). The Dynamics of Theory Change. M. Eagle. Pp. 373-409. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):531. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). On a Contribution to a Future Scientific Study of Dream Interpretation. R. Sand. Pp. 527-547. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):530-531. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Freud's Dream: A Complete Interdisciplinary Science of Mind. Patricia Kitcher. Boston: The MIT Press, 1995. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):529-530. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Deconstructing Dreams: The Spandrels of Sleep. O. Flanagan. The Journal of Philosophy. XCII, 1995. Pp. 5-28. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):529. […]
Cavell, M. (1999). Donald Levy on ‘Freud among the Philosophers’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(1):171. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Response. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1223. […]
Cavell, M. (1998). Response. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1221-1222. […]
Cavell, M. Davidson, D. (1997). Review of The Psychoanalytic Mind: from Freud to Philosophy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:1017-1018. […]
Cavell, M. (2014). On Paolo Migone's “What Does ‘Brief’ Mean?”. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 62(5):NP18. […]
Cavell, M. (2002). Marcia Cavell Responds. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 50(4):1313-1315. […]
Cavell, M. (2000). Reasons, Causes, and the Domain of the First-Person. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 207-213. […]
Cavell, M. (2000). Self-Reflections. Psychoanal. Dial., 10(3):513-529. […]
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