Is original research necessary?
There is no doubt that science needs original research and theoretical work. Does scientific skepticism need them too?
"Original research" and "Theoretical answers", in the sense used on this site, are only one of the tools used by scientific skeptics to debunk extraordinary claim and are seldom used for that (e.g. try to count how many Snopes answers only use calculations or self-performed experiments).
I've never seen them used to confirm an extraordinary claim (e.g. Drake's equation is never taken as proof of alien life by skeptics).
In conclusion, no, original research is only one of the possible avenues to apply skepticism, but there are many other ways which don't rely on it.
The crux of the problem in the "Reason why not" paragraph of ChrisW's answer is a contention on the definition of "scientific skepticism".
Does allowing only a subset of scientific tools still retains the qualities of scientific skepticism or not? The answers we do give are quite similar in content, argumentation style, and logic to the kind of conclusions found in almost all other skeptics sites on the net and most skeptic authors' books.
I would say that the materials and methods that make up this site are qualitatively very similar to other applied scientific skepticism material and thus, we are applying scientific skepticism in a generally accepted way.
What is an appeal to authority?
An Appeal to Authority is a fallacy with the following form:
- Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
- Person A makes claim C about subject S.
- Therefore, C is true.
This fallacy is committed when the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject. More formally, if person A is not qualified to make reliable claims in subject S, then the argument will be fallacious.
There are a lot of arguments about this site presenting "arguments from authority". This is false.
- Presenting an argument from a legitimate authority is allowed. We only allow reputable references.
- A requirement of this fallacy is inferring correctness from authority. We don't claim correctness.
I've seen some definitions of this fallacy disallow any authority. In this case, point 2. still protects us from falling in that fallacy.
When a scientist uses a well-known formula, they also rely on some authority to prove it is correct and usable, this doesn't mean they are appealing to authority.
On the other hand, allowing an answerer to report a self-performed experiment is certainly an argument from (personal) authority.
The crux is the reliablity of the answers, in particular the ability to estimate it, not the authority, and requesting references does make the answer evidence their reliability. An answer points to a poor quality reference? It's not very reliable. Is an answer pointing to a well established source? It's way more reliable. Is someone reporting a self-invented experiment reliable? Not very, it's anecdotal at best.
Does this prove anything on this site is correct? Nope. We don't claim to be correct.
On the other hand, it does provide a strengthening or weakening of the claims asked about, and as such it qualifies with the aim of scientific skepticism.
Do we allow novel material on the site? Yes. Many of our answers do: spot checking, this is the first answer in my feed. It connects evidence to an answer. The evidence was not previously used to answer the question. Novel, useful information is certainly present.
Are we a journalistic site? Not in my definition of journalism: news are typically top down and editorial. We are bottom up and community-oriented. We answer questions, so we react to our audience. In fact, we are our audience. Journals do not do that as their core.
What we do is connect questions with answers, questioners with answerers, extraordinary claims with reliable evidence. This is exactly what scientific skepticism is.