Reviews of the PEP Archive
A Review of the Pep CD-ROM, Archive 1, Version 3.
Robert Michels and Russell A. Scholl
Psychoanalytic Quarterly , 73, 566-571
My first reaction when invited to review the new PEP CD-ROM was that I am not competent to do so. I am an active consumer of the psychoanalytic literature, but basically computer illiterate. I am too coddled to have mastered the technology and use it only for e-mail. The coddling is done skillfully, and as far as I can tell effortlessly, by Russell Scholl, my administrator for the last fourteen years and a talented and proficient "natural" at computers. My second reaction was that, just as we use the PEP CD-ROM collaboratively, Russell and I should collaborate in writing this review.
It seems amazing that the whole system is so small—seventy-eight years of the complete text of the major psychoanalytic journals all in the space occupied by a small book! The shelf space saved is worth the price (although pretty soon, all the other things one would put on those shelves will be just as compact). Even more important, everything is retrievable and accessible—no more searching through volumes of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly only to find that my memory failed and the article I sought had actually been published in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, or that the article I remember reading thirty years ago was in fact published twenty years before that.
Russell installed the program (he will tell this part of the story in the following section of this review), and we sat down for my first lesson. I started where anyone would, looking up all my papers and all those that referred to them. It took seconds, and while there were no surprises on the first list, there were a number on the second. There were people I did not know and had never met who had cited me, and I could quickly and easily find them. I liked that. However, competitiveness soon won out over pride; what about some of my better-published colleagues? I learned (or confirmed) that they published much more than I, and cited me less often than I cited them. The truth hurts.
The disc has two basic characteristics-the more obvious is that it comprises a complete library of
every article in eight major psychoanalytic journals, from their beginnings through 1998 . The second is that it contains an extraordinarily versatile search engine that allows the user to review every page of these journals while asking questions such as, "Where does transference appear in the same paragraph as psychosis? " or "Does Kohut ever refer to Sullivan?" The program not only answers such queries; it also generates interesting questions of its own that are now easy to answer, but would not have seemed worth the effort before. Paul Mosher's study of trends in the use of psychoanalytic concepts over time is an elegant example of how such a process can be invaluable  (and, since that study was published in 1998 and is based on an earlier edition of the PEP CD-ROM, it can itself be retrieved from this disc).
A single disc that contains all these articles is a miracle of the electronic age, but it is the search engine that makes the real difference. It supports a sort of dialogue between the user and the entire body of psychoanalytic literature, even making the vast literature that the user has never read available for study.
In addition to providing access to the literature and making it available for searches, the disc enables the user to print any article it contains. That means that readings for seminars, study groups, or personal use are instantly available in hard copy, without the need to find them in a library or on one's own shelf. This alone has more than compensated for the (high) cost of the discs - what used to be a major chore is now a trivial step.
In sum, the PEP CD-ROM is a remarkable library, a creative tool for systematic searching, a convenient source of paper copies of articles, and a wonderful toy, all in one. Future versions may come to replace both journals and books. Get it and learn how to use it now; you will throw away your old journals.
For the psychoanalyst and the student of psychoanalysis, the PEP CD-ROM is an invaluable resource. With this disc, the researcher has at his or her fingertips a virtual library comprising the complete runs of eight major psychoanalytic journals from 1920 to 1998 : Contemporary Psychoanalysis, the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, the International Review of Psycho-Analysis, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, and Psychoanalytic Inquiry.
Countless hours (not to mention shoe leather) can be saved by users of this disc.
This version of the PEP disc is actually a two-disc set: a setup disc and another that contains the database. Just as with the earlier versions, it must be registered shortly after installation or the program will cease to work after fifteen days. Licensing is required to prevent copying the software. I found the installation and registration process straightforward and the PEP support very responsive and helpful (via e-mail and by phone during prescribed hours each day). Once you have installed and registered the software, you may use the data disc as a regular CD-ROM, loading it into your CD-ROM drive each time you want to access the database, or, given enough available memory, you can copy the contents of the data disc directly to your hard drive.The latter facilitates speed and ease of use.
Included in PEP's "Help" feature (which comes with the PC version of the disc; Mac users must refer to the PEP website) is the "Quick Introductory Tutorial," a guide to get the neophyte up and running. I found it a most satisfactory primer and a fine introduction to the wonders of this disc. I also found that it took longer than the stated forty-five minutes to work through it thoroughly. The search software employed, Folio Views, is somewhat complex, and takes time and use to master. To get started, however, the Quick Tutorial is sufficient, and will take the user a pretty long way.
An easy introduction and a pleasant way to browse the disc is the "Quick Access" feature, which appears on the upper right-hand side of the screen when the program is opened. Quick Access provides instant access to tables of authors, journals, articles, and so on. For example, one can open the Table of Authors and click on an author's name, and a bibliography appears of all the articles by that author that are contained on the disc. Click on the title of any article in the list, and in moments, the text of the article is before you. The same is true of the Table of Journals and the Table of Articles. The program also features access to All Figures, All Tables, All Abstracts/Summaries, and All References. The last item in the Quick Access menu, "About PEP Archive 1," is a bit of explanation-cum-self-promotion that includes the following statement:
The PEP disc contains a vast amount of information over 32,000 articles and over 2,000 figures and illustrations that originally resided on more than 218,000 journal pages and 397 volumes. In hard copy, the Archive represents a stack of paper more than 22 feet high and weighing nearly a ton.
Aside from being a virtual 22-foot, one-ton library, the program's unique value is the versatility of its search capabilities, enabling the user to search by author, article title, year (or for articles appearing before or after a certain year), keyword, phrase, or journal- and, of course, by content. Its sophisticated search engine enables the user to search for multiple terms in close proximity to each other, e.g., words appearing within five, ten, or twenty words apart. It even allows the user to look for a word or phrase contained in the content of a reported dream. A search can be limited to certain types of articles (specifically, Abstract, Announcement, Article, Commentary, Profile, Report, or Review). One can also discover who cites whom, as Dr. Michels noted. Another useful search option is the "Limit search to checked branches" feature, which allows the user to handpick any number of articles to which the search will be restricted.
There are several "wildcards," permitting searches for different forms of a term, alternative spellings, synonyms, and so forth. For instance, typing in "prop*er" locates the terms propagandizer, propeller, proper, proposer, and so on. The program can also locate terms that were misspelled in the original journals (which have been transposed to the CD-ROM unchanged)
Hypertext links leading to helpful pop-up windows occur frequently in the articles. These include information about the author (at the beginning of each article), footnotes, references, and so forth. If the referenced article is contained on the disc, it may be accessed immediately with a click of the mouse.
There are flexible printing options that allow the printing of a single article, a series of articles, highlighted text, bibliographies, and so on. The latter can prove quite useful, since by checking "List bibliography from search," the user obtains a bibliography of the results of the search that can then be printed, copied and pasted into a Word document, or e-mailed to a colleague.
In addition to the CD-ROM, there is now a World Wide Web version of the PEP literature available, aimed at university libraries and other large institutions; it can be accessed by multiple users simultaneously. This is a major advance in making the psychoanalytic periodical literature available to students and faculty.
I have one caveat about the program. I use a Macintosh computer, and there are a number of idiosyncrasies with the Mac version of the disc. (PC users might say that the idiosyncrasy lies with the Mac.) The tutorial and PEP "Help" are designed for PC users, who are, of course, in the majority. A handful of differences in nomenclature and in the layout of the various search windows exists between the two platforms, so in places, extra work was required on my part to figure out what needed to be done to execute a given function on the Mac. Mac users must go to the PEP website for PEP Help; it is not on the disc itself. This is a disadvantage, especially if the Internet connection is slow or temporarily down. In future versions, it would be very useful if PEP Help can be contained on the disc itself, with a discrete PEP Help for Mac users on the website.
Despite the above-mentioned shortcoming, the PEP CD-ROM is a superb research tool and a must-have for psychoanalysts, students of psychoanalysis, and anyone with a serious interest in the field.
1. Version 4 of the PEP CD-ROM has become available since the writing of this review. It contains additional journals—a total of thirteen—through the year 2000, as well as twenty-three books, including The Freud-Klein Controversies, 1941-45 (King & Steiner) and the Laplanche-Pontalis dictionary, as well as major works by Anzieu, Bion, Fairbairn, M. Klein, Matte Blanco, H. Rosenfeld, and D. N. Stern. (Back)
2. Mosher, P. (1998). Frequency of word use as indicator of evolution of psychoanalytic thought. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46: 577-581. (Back)
3. See footnote 1. (Back)