In most fields, I think, it is common to use the acknowledgement section to thank everyone for their input who contributed to the paper but did not enough to warrant co-authorship. As a biostatistician working in medicine, however, I have experienced it several times that researchers want to include me as a co-author, although I have not contributed anything or do not even agree with the methods they used, just to make the impression that they have a professional statistician on board. In these situations, I refuse authorship, which usually puts an end to the debate.
Recently, there was one of these cases where a researcher used a methodology that was in my view inferior and even wrong and refused to follow my suggestions. They accepted my rejection of authorship, but wrote in the acknowledgement that they "thank LuckyPal for statistical support".
I feel taken advantage of, and it smells of academic misconduct. However, the journal (a quite reputable one) has no policy of requiring consent of people named in the acknowledgement section. The phrasing "statistical support" is probably broad enough to allow for interpretations that come close to the truth, so it is not plain wrong. If the authors would actually contact the journal to change the acknowledgement, it will at least look somewhat fishy from the journal's perspective.
Is it legitimate to demand to be removed from the acknowledgement?
Thank you for the very helpful dicussion here. I asked the first author to remove my name from the acknowledgements. They first suggested to remove my name and instead thank the institute, were I am employed. This suggestion has further increased my suspicion that their goal was not to actually acknowledge my time and effort. The director of my institute disagreed with this suggestion. The author then contacted the journal, which has now actually removed the statement about statistical support or expertise from the acknowledgement completely.
I am glad that it all went well without further escalation. I will refrain from collaborating with this research group in the future.