The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of advances in the field of Raman spectroscopy as reflected in articles published each year in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy as well as in trends across related journals publishing in this research area. The 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 International Conference on Advanced Vibrational Spectroscopy in Kobe Japan in August 2013 and at SCIX 2013 sponsored by the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, October 2013. Papers published in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy in 2012 are highlighted in this review and reflect topics and advances at the frontier of Raman spectroscopy, a field that is expanding rapidly as a sensitive photonic probe of matter at the molecular level in an ever widening sphere of novel applications. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.