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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.

Brinich, P.M. (2014). Discussion of Diane Ehrensaft's “Listening and Learning from Gender-Nonconforming Children”. Psychoanal. St. Child, 68:71-78.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 68:71-78

Discussion of Diane Ehrensaft's “Listening and Learning from Gender-Nonconforming Children” Related Papers

Paul M. Brinich, Ph.D.

My discussion of Diane Ehrensaft's paper begins with some comments that extend her ideas. I suggest that the interaction of nature and nurture in the creation of gender begins before birth and perhaps even before conception. I argue that there are practical limits to the degree to which we can expect sociocultural forces to yield to Ehrensaft's call for a broadened narrative of gender. I then go on to pose some questions: Should children have complete autonomy regarding their bodily development, as Ehrensaft seems to suggest? Does such autonomy extend to areas beyond gender, such as issues of racial identity? And I close with some criticisms, chiefly that gender identity should not be conceptualized as something that is clearly or immutably defined in childhood, but as a component of one's self that constantly interacts with one's biology, psychology, and sociocultural milieu from conception until death. Child and adult psychoanalysts are only beginning to accumulate the data necessary to respond to Ehrensaft's challenging hypotheses.

[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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