Britney Spears story “remains as part of the publication record,” says Nature

Britney Spears in 2013 (Glenn Francis)

A 2008 story in Nature about Britney Spears that prompted an apology from the author and the journal earlier this week “remains as part of the publication record,” Nature said in an editor’s note.

The story, titled “When Britney Spears comes to my lab,” appeared in a section of the journal called Nature Futures and refers to Spears “wearing a silver strapless stretch top that doesn’t show too much of her belly (unless she actually moves her arms), and black Capri pants with a little dip in the waistband.” 

Spears, it said, would eventually go on to earn a PhD from Harvard and develop a treatment for diabetes. Before that, however, “Britney will pump out a lot of good data (she is something of a workaholic), but gradually, with her music, her intermittent marriages and pregnancies, not to mention her classes, the amount of time she spends in lab will begin to dwindle.”

In a note appended to the article sometime this week, following thousands of tweets and a Retraction Watch post, the editors write:

This article of fiction remains as part of the publication record. However, we would like to stress that we understand the concerns that have been raised about it and would like to apologize for any offence caused.

The story now also includes a note from the author, Vincent Licata, of Louisiana State University:

I want to respond to some of the recent reactions to this article by saying I am deeply sorry that it has caused offence. When I wrote this story in 2007, it was intended as a humorous piece in praise of Britney Spears – satirizing the style of articles about her at the time – but then refocusing that framework on her immense talents and the fact that the drive and creativity needed to succeed in research are similar to those needed to succeed in the music business. I realize now that parts of the story are inappropriate and I sincerely apologize for this.

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