We have investigated ten standard single crystal substrates of complex oxides on the account of their applicability in the Raman spectroscopy-based thin film research. In this study, we suggest a spectra normalization procedure that utilizes a comparison of the substrate's Raman spectra to those of well-established Raman reference materials. We demonstrate that MgO, LaGaO3, (LaAlO3)0.3(Sr2AlTaO6)0.7 (LSAT), DyScO3, YAlO3, and LaAlO3 can be of potential use for Raman-based thin film research. At the same time TiO2 (rutile), NdGaO3, SrLaAlO4, and SrTiO3 single crystals exhibit multiple phonon modes accompanied by strong Raman background that substantially hinder Raman-based thin film experiments. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.