Pieter Kroonenberg, a Dutch statistician, discovered a nonexistent paper that had been cited more than 400 times. The phantom paper was cited as:
Van der Geer, J., Hanraads, J. A. J., Lupton, R. A. 2010. The art of writing a scientific article. J Sci. Commun. 163 (2) 51–59.
This originated as a hypothetical example given in a style guide used by Elsevier to illustrate how to reference in particular journals. We confirmed, by a search in the Web of Science, that it had been cited more than 480 times by 2019. Most of these came from abstracts in conference proceedings, and it seems likely that many authors had misunderstood that this was an example of how to cite, not an example of something that should be cited. But the reference also appeared in 79 journal papers. Of these, 13 were connected together through references, and in these, it was bizarrely used to support the claim that a compound called rutin could dilute the blood, reduce capillary permeability and lower blood pressure.