Wonderful as it is to be cited, being cited incorrectly poses a dilemma. If your article is referenced for a proposition it does not support, what should you do? Should you alert the author of the piece or the editor of the journal? Should you ignore it? Should you correct the reference the next time you publish on the topic?
Perhaps the ideal response varies with the degree of error. Scholars delight to participate in the discourse, after all, and sometimes a citation that seems incorrect to an author is really a way to advance the conversation. A reference in ensuing scholarship explaining that contribution would be apt. Sometimes a piece is cited for a general point that an author rather than a reader would recognize as a bit afield. No response at all is okay.
But what about a statement that is clearly wrong? Suppose someone makes an assertion that European accounting law is principles based and cites my Vanderbilt Law Review article challenging the whole notion of principles based accounting. It infuriates me. I want to write to the author and editor to object. But should I? Should I care?
The problem is even worse than appears, because while I am particularly sensitive to incorrect citations to my own work, I also see incorrect citations to the work of others with which I’m familiar. It appears that many writers and editors today cite things without really reading them. It seems as though someone should say something. But who? And to whom?