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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.

Flescher, J. (1953). L'Astinenza Sessuale (Sexual Abstinence): By Dottore Stefano Fajrajzen. Milan: Fratelli Bocca Editori, 1952. 333 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 22:285-287.

(1953). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 22:285-287

L'Astinenza Sessuale (Sexual Abstinence): By Dottore Stefano Fajrajzen. Milan: Fratelli Bocca Editori, 1952. 333 pp.

Review by:
Joachim Flescher

This book deals with the manifold clinical, psychological, physiological, ethical, and social aspects of sexual abstinence, a problem to which modern psychiatry has given many and well-founded answers. These, however, are far from being integrated and still farther from constructive prophylactic applicability. The author underscores the surprising phenomenon that in our culture sexual (coital) abstinence is almost normal until many years after biological maturity. Dr. Fajrajzen discusses both 'relative' abstinence, wherein sexual tension is relieved by masturbation, pollution or spermatorrhea, and 'partial' abstinence, in which the course of the sexual act is curtailed, as in coitus interruptus. Another classification takes into account differences in sexual maturation which permit the division between sexually mature and sexually immature ('paraphilic') abstinent individuals.

The pathological consequences of sexual abstinence are presented as negligible in hyposexual individuals and an attempt is made to correlate sexual with physical constitution. The author shares Sheldon's opinion about the greater strength of sexual drives in individuals of the longilineal or leptosomic type, which seems questionable to this reviewer.

[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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