In order to encourage the national academic societies to give full play to their disciplinary and professional advantages, strengthen the study on trend and role of disciplinary development of China, integrate scientific and technological resources, and guide the planning of discipline layout and staying ahead of the curve in scientific and technological development, the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) launched in 2006 a research project to look into the history and development of various scientific disciplines, and established a system of regularly releasing the progress in disciplinary construction, so as to organize the national academic societies and relevant research institutions to systematically summarize the achievements in discipline development, explore its rules, predict its development trend, promote the integration of different disciplines, cultivate new growth point and enhance the original innovation ability. In 2015, based on this project, three sub-projects were incorporated, namely, discipline development prediction and technology roadmaps, resource sharing, and innovative collaboration of discipline clusters, which were to become a new integrated project -- Discipline Development in CAST Member Societies.
As of 2016, 110 national societies conducted a total of 220 discipline development researches that resulted in the publishing of 220 volumes of discipline development reports. More than 12,500 experts and scholars (including more than 500 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering) participated in those researches, and more than 8,000 experts took part in the drafting of the reports. For the annual research report, 1,056 kinds of scientific journals and 200 national academic societies provided a wealth of cases and data. Making full use of the resources of national academic societies to establish collaborative network and shares databases for scientific research, and in the spirit of open access, sharing, and integration of scientific and technological information, the project has analyzed the various elements such as the research progress, level of results, research teams, work platform, disciplinary influence, and provided a guidance to the orientation and structural optimization of discipline development. It has put forward suggestions concerning the direction of China’s discipline development, key research topics, technology roadmaps, and focus and mechanism of disciplinary collaboration. In addition, it has played a leading role in improving the discipline layout, promoting discipline integration and achieved a balanced development toward strengthening discipline construction.
As the backbone of the Chinese science and technology community, the academic societies affiliated to CAST cover a full range of scientific disciplines and rich academic resources. CAST has brought together high-level interdisciplinary, cross-industry and cross-region talents, which gives it institutional and talent advantages in discipline development research.The Discipline Development in CAST Member Societies project has attracted attentions from not only the scientific and technological community and relevant government departments of China, but also many foreign research institutions; besides, it has become an important reference for scientific research projects, technological innovation and application, and interdisciplinary research. Many domestic and foreign well-known libraries have included the projectrelated material asto their collections, showing an important academic value and lasting social influence. Up to now, this project is the only discipline research and resource integration project that has been conducted at the national level with such a large scale, long duration, huge number of participants and wide discipline coverage.