Drawing on autobiographical recollections, I propose to see collaborative research as a learning experience. I assume a sociocultural psychological approach to the social understanding and interpretation of different scientific research practices. I examine the modalities of collaboration in my first experience of managing an important national research project on Italian families' dinner table conversations, and in a larger collaborative research endeavor concerning the everyday life of middle-class Italian, Swedish and US families from a comparative view (the Sloan project). On the basis of these experiences, I highlight some of the difficulties met by two other projects presented in this special issue, the DUNES project (Tartas and Muller Mirza, this issue) and the Transition project (Markova and Plichtova, this issue). I conclude by suggesting a provisional criterion for generativity in collaborative research. I suggest that generativity occurs when the more expert and academically oldest ones become conscious that they are learning something new from the group and from some other, independently from age and experience.