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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.

Rascovsky, A. (1943). Frank A. Beach: Analysis of factors involved in the arousal maintenance and manifestation of sexual excitement in male animals. (Análisis de los factores comprendidos en el despertar, mantenimiento y manifestación de la excitación sexual en animales machos.) “Psychosomatic Medicine”. Vol. IV, núm. 2, página 173, abril 1942.. Rev. psicoanál., 1(1):126-128.

(1943). Revista de Psicoanálisis, 1(1):126-128

Frank A. Beach: Analysis of factors involved in the arousal maintenance and manifestation of sexual excitement in male animals. (Análisis de los factores comprendidos en el despertar, mantenimiento y manifestación de la excitación sexual en animales machos.) “Psychosomatic Medicine”. Vol. IV, núm. 2, página 173, abril 1942.

Review by:
Arnaldo Rascovsky

La revisión de numerosos experimentos relacionados con la conducta sexual de machos de varias especies de vertebrados, ha sugerido una tentativa de interpretación de las bases fisiológicas de la excitación sexual y de las reacciones copulatorias. Esta interpretación no se ofrece como una teoría explicativa completamente satisfactoria, sino que más bien se ha formulado con la idea de que pueda señalar provechosas direcciones de enfoque experimental con respecto al importante problema a que se refiere.

El despertar sexual que conduce a la cópula se considera como un producto de dos variables independientes. Los machos difieren en forma innata en su susceptibilidad frente al despertar sexual. Los diversos objetos-estímulos difieren en su capacidad para producir excitación sexual. La hembra perfectamente receptiva constituye el objeto-estímulo excitante máximo; pero un macho altamente excitable puede intentar copular con incentivos menos estimulantes. La aparición de reacciones copulatorias se considera así como una función conjunta de la capacidad de respuesta del macho y del valor de excitación del incentivo.

En las especies de vertebrados situados por debajo de los primates, el patrón motor de copulación parece estar organizado en forma innata. Los macacos y los monos dan pruebas de patrones hereditarios incompletamente organizados que deben ser suplementados por la experiencia.

[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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