The purpose of this 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 Journal of Raman Spectroscopy as well as in trends across all related journals publishing in this research area. Context for this review is derived from statistical data on article counts obtained from Thomson Reuters ISI Web of Knowledge by year and by subfield of Raman spectroscopy. Additional information is gleaned from presentations featuring Raman spectroscopy presented at the XXIII International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy in Bangalore, India, in August 2012 and at Scientific Exchange 2012 sponsored by the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, October 2012. Papers published in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy in 2011 are highlighted in this review and reflect trends at the cutting edge of Raman spectroscopy, a field that is expanding rapidly as a sensitive photonic probe of matter at the molecular level with an ever widening sphere of novel applications. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.