This is a work in progress, intended to organize my thoughts on the process of formulating a proposal. If you have any thoughts on the contents, or on the notion of making this available to students, please share them with me. Thanks.
A research proposal is a document proposing a research project, generally in the sciences or academia , and generally constitutes a request for sponsorship of that research.  Proposals are evaluated on the cost and potential impact of the proposed research, and on the soundness of the proposed plan for carrying it out.  Research proposals generally address several key points:  
Academic research proposals are generally written as part of the initial requirements of writing a thesis, research paper, or dissertation. They generally follow the same format as a research paper, with an introduction, a literature review, a discussion of research methodology and goals, and a conclusion. This basic structure may vary between projects and between fields, each of which may have its own requirements.
The University of Michigan Office of Research (UMOR) has central responsibility for nurturing excellence in research, scholarship and creative activity across the entire campus. Limited Submission and other funding competitions are managed by the Office of Vice President for Research (OVPR).
UMOR is home to a variety of diverse interdisciplinary research units that span topics ranging from human development to energy to mobility transformation, and research units like the Business Engagement Center (BEC) and TechTransfer.
The exact format and requirements for a research proposal can vary slightly depending on the type of research being proposed and the specific demands of the institution you plan to submit your proposal to, but there are a few basics that are almost always needed. Overall, a good research proposal takes time to write and must identify what the proposed research will address and why the proposed research is so important. Here is a brief explanation of the sections needed to complete a standard research proposal as well as the writing timeline you should strive to follow.