# FAQs

### What is MAPS? How did it start?

MAPS is a new program, started by CAPS in 2010, as a way to help undergraduates learn the process of doing original research before getting to the senior-thesis-writing stage. We at CAPS have for several years heard juniors and seniors talking about wanting to write a senior thesis, but feeling like they didn’t have enough experience, or didn’t know where to begin. This often meant that, when they applied for research funding, they didn’t get the grants they needed. The awards available to undergraduates for thesis research and writing demand a thoughtful and well-considered research question. But if you’ve never done original research, it’s hard to know how to formulate a good question. We at CAPS conceived of the MAPS program as a way to help give undergraduates some experience and training in question-development and original research before they get to the thesis-writing stage.

### How did I get selected to be invited to join MAPS?

MAPS undergraduates are nominated by someone who has been in a position to observe their work, either as a professor or TF or director of undergraduate study (DUG) in their program or department. If you have not been nominated, but would like to be, ask a professor, TF, or DUG to nominate you to the MAPS coordinator, Katie Derzon (kderzon@fas.harvard.edu).

### Who is nominated to join MAPS?

MAPS is not just for the top one or two students in each cohort. Rather, we conceive of MAPS as useful and appropriate for bright, thoughtful undergraduates who are intellectually curious and interested in doing original research – but who, for whatever reason, may not know where to begin or have the resources and confidence to undertake original research on their own.

### How much work is involved? How long will it take?

MAPS is a program designed to help undergraduates develop skills in original research. Any research project will involve some nontrivial amount of time and effort. However, MAPS is not a class or a thesis, and will not take as much time as either of those. It’s also fairly self-directed, so the time and work involved can expand or contract, according to what you are willing to put into it. In large part, the time and work involved depend on the scope of your research question and design. If you don’t have much time but still want to do MAPS, you can work with your mentor to design a project that won’t overburden you but will still give you the chance to explore doing some original research. MAPS mentors can help you design a flexible research program for yourself.