Orientation towards application, transdisciplinarity and social distribution are prominent ideas when policy prescribes how to conduct research on complex, real-world issues. Issues dealt with in ageing research are both epistemologically complex and politically contentious. By using the metaphor of ‘travelling ideas,' we have followed these ideas on their journey into 17 approved grant proposals on ageing and their assessments in Sweden in 2016. We considered collaboration as the modus operandi of the implementation of the three ideas. Thus, we analyzed how plans for collaboration were described in the data. The result shows that although the ideas were clearly present in the policy documents, they were almost eviscerated in the majority of proposals and assessments. Only three out of 17 proposals reflected the ideas. Thus, collaboration as an aspect of research was not codified. As long as there is no established way of describing collaboration, researchers struggle to invent their own tentative versions, that is, a collaborology.