AERA Continues Its Ombuds Program at the 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting
AERA Continues Its Ombuds Program at the 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting

March 2021

Shannon Lynn Burton

AERA will continue its Ombuds Program as part of the 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting. First introduced at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Toronto, the Annual Meeting Ombuds is an important component of AERA’s ongoing commitment and expanded initiatives to ensure a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment for all who participate in AERA meetings and events. Following a successful pilot year, AERA has committed to continuing the Ombuds Program as a resource for future Annual Meetings. 

The ombuds is a neutral, confidential, informal, and independent resource who is available to hear meeting attendees’ concerns and can provide assistance by identifying options and resources to resolve conflicts or issues, including harassment, discrimination, or any violation of the AERA Code of Ethics or standards of conduct. This year’s virtual Annual Meeting offers an exciting opportunity to build on valuable insights gained from the Ombuds Program’s pilot year and to be responsive to the needs of attendees in the virtual meeting environment. 

Carol Mershon

For the 2021 Annual Meeting, AERA will once again offer a two-person, co-ombuds team that consists of one full-time ombuds who has experience working in academic settings and a social scientist with ombuds training who has served as an ombuds for other research associations. Building upon a successful collaboration with AERA in 2019, Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D., and Carol Mershon, Ph.D., will serve as the co-ombuds team for 2021. Burton is university ombudsperson at Michigan State University and Mershon is professor in politics at the University of Virginia.

During the Virtual Annual Meeting, attendees can schedule confidential consultations with the ombuds team by video conference or by phone. The ombuds team will be available for consultations between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. (EDT) on April 8 and between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., April 9–12. Attendees can contact the ombuds by email at or by phone at (202) 505-3356.  

Attendees may also contact the AERA ombuds after the Annual Meeting, through May 30, by emailing them at

The AERA ombuds adhere to the International Ombudsman Association’s Standards of Practice. The Annual Meeting ombuds is a resource provided by AERA for meeting participants, but it is independent of AERA’s formal reporting structure, and attendees’ communications with the ombuds are confidential.