Today I was perusing the titles of articles that just appeared online in one of the journals I typically read, and I saw one title that seemed sort of interesting in a peripheral-to-my-research but might-be-relevant kind of way. I skimmed it, and saw a citation of one of my papers. My first reaction was to be very pleased -- one of my 2007 papers was cited by someone else's 2007 paper, and that is nice. My second reaction was What?!??
The sentence that preceded the reference to FSP et al. (2007) was about a topic not discussed by FSP et al. (2007). In addition, the sentence seems to imply that FSP et al. (2007) has certain data on this topic, but in fact it does not. It has other data -- very nice data, in my opinion -- but not the cited data.
In other examples of incorrect citations of my work, I have been very annoyed, particularly if the citation accompanies an interpretation that is not one that I actually made. I have also been annoyed by examples of what I thought were abuse of my data or other research results.
But what about a citation that overall seems harmless, however wrong? My paper doesn't contain the indicated data, but that doesn't bother me nearly as much as having my interpretations or results distorted or otherwise misrepresented.
On the plus side, I have the citation in my citation index. On the negative side, what if the (mis)citation leads people looking for the non-existent data to my paper, resulting in massive disappointment and heartbreak when the sought-for data are not found? That would be so sad. I will try not to think about that and be glad instead that someone (mis)read my paper.
6 months ago