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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.

Brady, M.T. (2006). The Riddle of Masculinity. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 54(4):1195-1206.

(2006). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 54(4):1195-1206

Panel Report

The Riddle of Masculinity

Mary T. Brady

This panel was born out of Nancy Chodorow's observation that the “riddle of masculinity,” has not generated the extensive thought that has been accorded the “riddle of femininity” (her reference was to Freud's famous remark in 1933 that psychology is “unable to solve the riddle of femininity”). Maleness has been seen as the norm, and thus unnecessary to think about. Chodorow pointed out that Freud's writings, and those of his colleagues, which assumed a male norm and assumed that the penis (present, absent, or castrated) is central to gender and sexuality for both sexes, have received extensive criticism and revision. Indeed, the “riddle of femininity” has occasioned wide-ranging theoretical work. Writings on female psychology have expanded our understanding of the oedipus complex, preoedipal phases, psycho-sexual development, superego formation, bisexuality, homosexuality, and heterosexuality. A “matricentric” focus has contributed to our understanding of the early mother-child relation and led to relational psychoanalysis, the elaboration of Kleinian and object relations theories, attention to nonverbal elements in the analytic space, and the characterization of analysis as unfolding in the transitional realm. Our understanding of female psychology has deepened and gained in nuance and complexity. Meanwhile, the “riddle of masculinity” remains largely unremarked and unaddressed.

Chodorow expressed indebtedness to the studies of colleagues who have described homosexual boyhoods, alternative masculinities, and the becoming-gay boy's relations to his mother and father. By comparison and implication these studies have also delineated patterns of typical heterosexual masculinities.

Chodorow asked the panelists to problematize their understanding of masculinity by responding to three central questions.

[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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