Taiwanese singer and actress Vivian Hsu (徐若瑄), who in January obtained her master’s degree from Shih Hsin University, has drawn criticism for using herself as the subject of her graduate thesis.
The 45-year-old performer’s thesis — titled “The Artist’s Transformation Strategy in The Internet Age: Take the Star Vivian as an Example” — has been listed in Taiwan’s National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
Political commentator Fan Li-da (范立達), a Shih Hsin alumnus, on Wednesday wrote on Facebook that although he respects Hsu, who he said is a hardworking entertainer, he was shocked that the university accepted her thesis.
Photo: Chen Yi-kuan, Taipei Times
“I find it really hard to believe that a thesis that takes the author herself as the subject of research was allowed by the instructor and the whole oral defense committee, and even passed the ethical review,” Fan said.
“How am I to tell people that I received one of my master’s degrees from Shih Hsin, when it has now become a school that sets such low standards for master’s theses?” he added.
The paper also came under scrutiny on online forums, with comments such as: “How can a student write a thesis about herself?” and: “That’s too easy.”
The entertainer’s thesis adviser, public relations and advertising associate professor Hsu An-chi (許安琪), on Friday said in a statement through the university that Vivian Hsu’s publication is a technical report, not an academic thesis in the conventional sense, and the methods used were in compliance with research specifications.
According to the Degree Conferral Act (學業授予法), Vivian Hsu, a working professional in an arts-related field, is qualified to submit as her graduate thesis a technical report that centers on practical applications, Hsu An-chi said in the statement.
Conventional theses emphasize innovation of academic theories, so the nature of the two kinds of graduate publications is different, Hsu An-chi said.
The purpose of the research is to offer empirical examples for entertainers seeking to transform their personal brand, and with more than 30 years of experience in multiple aspects of show business, Vivian Hsu meets these guidelines, Hsu An-chi said.
It is common for students in in-service master’s programs to use their employment as the main subject of research, provided that empirical examples of the company or brand they use serve as the backbone of their research, the adviser said, adding that Vivian Hsu’s identity is a personal brand.
The research is categorized as “self-narrative research,” a methodology used for social science studies, she said, adding that Vivian Hsu also included in-depth interviews with senior managers from corporations Lao Xie Zhen and Bio-essence in the research to uphold academic rigor.
The university did not comment on the matter, and as of press time yesterday, Vivian Hsu had not responded to requests for comment.
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