It takes a lot of work to get a peer-reviewed publication.
You have to do the research, discover something cool, and then write about it eloquently before submitting it to the right journal at the right time. Not very many people do it. So, that means that when they do, we should trust it... right?
I came across this problem in my fanfiction research. I was reading along quite happily when I stumbled upon an interesting article. The authors were comparing slash authors to readers of romance novels. They were applying their studies of romance novel readers directly to slash authors. Originally I accepted it, even found it interesting and intriguing.
Later, I read that a large number of slash fans took serious issue with these authors.
Looking back on the article, I could see why. They were comparing two disparate topics as if they were identical. And, more importantly, they were considering these two genres of writing to be abnormal. They thought that slash or romance novels said something about female sexuality, heavily implying that females expressing their sexuality in this way was abnormal.
Before I read the critique of the article, I found it difficult for me to critique the article. I was stuck in "scholars are infallible" mode. It never occurred to me that scholars might have agendas of their own, or that they might not be connected to the people they are researching in a real way.
I've kept this revelation close to my heart as I have continued to progress in my fanfiction research. It is very important to me that I represent fan producers honestly. Not just because I am a fan producer myself, but because all people deserve to be represented in a befitting light.