The purpose of the review is to provide a concise overview of recent advances in the broadly defined field of Raman spectroscopy as reflected in part by the many articles published each year in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy (JRS) as well as in trends across all related journals publishing in this research area. Context for the review is provided by considering statistical data on citations for the Thompson Reuters ISI Web of Science by year and by subfield of Raman spectroscopy. Additional statistics of number of papers and posters presented by category at the XXII International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy (ICORS 2010) is also provided. Papers published in JRS in 2009, as reviewed here, reflect trends at the cutting edge of Raman spectroscopy which is expanding rapidly as a sensitive photonic probe of matter at the molecular level with an ever widening sphere of novel applications. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.