Formatting your research proposal can sometimes depend on your professor's personal preferences, but if he or she did not give you any specific parameters, here is a good general outline of how to set it up:
From: (include your name and email address)
Subject of the paper: Explain your general topic. If you are writing a literature-based research paper, be sure to include the titles and author's names, as well as any literary theory you may apply.
Thesis: Write your thesis statement. It can be one to two sentences and should make an assertion or argument about your topic. It should not be a question.
Approach: This is where you would explain how you are going to prove your thesis. Include information like how you will organize your paper and what sort of evidence you will provide to substantiate your claims.
Sources: Explain what sort of sources you will rely on for your paper. Are they a balanced mix of primary and secondary, as well as different types of media?
Tentative List of References or Sources: List some of your preliminary research. Be sure to demonstrate varied types of sources.
The best rule of thumb is this-- If you are unsure, ask your professor. It never hurts to make time to visit during office hours and receive clarification.