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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.

Grand, S. (1999). Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men: Richard B. Gartner. New York: Guilford Press, 1999, 656 pp., $40.00. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 4(3):317-321.

(1999). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 4(3):317-321

Book Review

Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men: Richard B. Gartner. New York: Guilford Press, 1999, 656 pp., $40.00

Review by:
Sue Grand, Ph.D.

An inquiry into the effects of sexual abuse on boys must, of necessity, involve a cultural critique. It must question our most fundamental assumptions about sexuality and desire; it must contest our vision of will, agency, and identity. The very phrase sexually abused boy is radical in its implication: it insists that boys are not in a perpetual state of unambivalent sexual readiness, and that they are boys nonetheless. To link the words sexually abused with boy is to challenge the bedrock of traditionally defined heteromasculinity. Perhaps masculinity is not defined by a ubiquitous heterosexual heat; perhaps agency and subjectivity are not equivalent to willing tumescence. To expose the sexual exploitation of boys is to expose the sexually fraudulent edifice of heteromasculinity. Now the doorway is opened for the reconceptualization of masculinity within all forms of gender identification and sexual object choice. Boys and men are permitted to repossess the privacy of their bodies, as well as the authenticity of their psychic lives.

It is this cultural critique which Gartner pursues in his new book, Betrayed as Boys. Gartner makes the simple argument that heterosexually inclined boys can be traumatized by the sexual embrace of older women, even if this embrace is erotically pleasurable. What a notion this is: that a “normal” heterosexual boy is not always “lucky” to find himself seduced; that he does not excitedly shift into willing agentic participation in his own seduction.

[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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