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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.

Giaccardi, G. (2016). Sexualities: Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspectives, edited by Alessandra Lemma and Paul E. Lynch, Routledge, 2015. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 6(1):103-106.

(2016). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 6(1):103-106

Sexualities: Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspectives, edited by Alessandra Lemma and Paul E. Lynch, Routledge, 2015

Review by:
Giorgio Giaccardi

Sexualities may be read, in its entirety, as a choral attempt to unfreeze some psychoanalytic assumptions that, drawing upon a normative understanding of the oedipal resolution, have deprived sexuality of its historicity, ultimately disavowing its inherently fluid, enigmatic, and ego-alien qualities. Contributors to this book variously articulate the importance of divesting sexuality of the illusion of fixity and normality, and reinvesting it with the centrality and plasticity well understood by Freud, but then lost in the American ego-psychology and British object relations traditions—the father and mother of a psychoanalytic progeny often ill-at-ease with the sexed body and the vagaries of desire.

This collection of essays, opened by a historical contextualisation of psychoanalytic homophobia (Dagmar Herzog), is structured in three thematic sections: “Foundational concepts for a contemporary approach to sexualities”, “Homosexuality”, and “Perversion revisited”. It is rich, varied, and current in its theoretical and clinical references to sexualities and symptoms increasingly relevant in the contemporary Western society. These include atrophy of desire (Marilia Aisenstein & Donald Moss); variety of understandings of perversion (Heather Wood); unsymbolised manifestations of traumatic aspects of sexuality (Avgi Saketopoulou), and newly recombined sexual identities such as “bears” and “metrosexuals” (Vittorio Lingiardi).

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2016 and more current articles see the publishers official website.]

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