You may well feel that if you need to do all this to write a good research proposal then you would already have done a substantial part of the research. This is true. It may seem unfair, but you can write a good proposal only if you put in substantial effort.

In particular, you will have to think very carefully about your methodology, about the contribution your work would make to the literature, about the potential policy implications of the proposed research, and, in case of fieldwork, about the information you need to collect, your survey instrument and the sample. All of this is hard work, which will pay off by making the early stages of your research easy because you would have already thought through the issues.

While all of this may seem daunting, you should not feel intimidated. Writing a good research proposal is not easy, but if you follow the guidelines of this paper you will substantially improve your chances of success.