Today I received a notification from Google Scholar that one of my papers had been cited. I often have a quick look at such papers to see how our work is being referenced. The article in question was from the Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Symposium on Biological Data Visualization: Data Analysis and Redesign Contests:
The paper describes a tool that helps "identify protein mutations across a family of structural models and to help discover the effect of these mutations on protein function". I was a bit surprised by this because this isn't a topic that I've published on. So I looked to see what paper of mine was being cited and how it was being cited. Here is the relevant sentence from the background section of the paper:
To improve the exploration process, many efforts have been made, from folding the sequences through classification [1,2], to tools for 3D view exploration  and to web-based applications which present large amounts of information to the users .
Citation number 2 is the paper on which I am a co-author:
- Chen N, Harris TW, Antoshechkin I, Bastiani C, Bieri T, Blasiar D, Bradnam K, Canaran P, Chan J, Chen C, Chen WJ, Cunningham F, Davis P, Kenny E, Kishore R, Lawson D, Lee R, Muller H, Nakamura C, Pai S, Ozersky P, Petcherski A, Rogers A, Sabo A, Schwarz EM, Van Auken K, Wang Q, Durbin R, Spieth J, Sternberg PW, Stein LD: Wormbase: A comprehensive data resource for Caenorhabditis biology and genomics. Nucleic Acids Res 2005, 33(1):383-389.
The cited paper simply describes the WormBase database and includes only a passing reference to the fact that WormBase contains some links to protein structures (when known), but that's about it. The WormBase paper doesn't mention 'folding' or 'classification' anywhere, which makes it seem a really odd choice of paper to be cited. It makes me wonder how many other papers end up gaining seemingly spurious citations like this one.