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With the success of wireless technologies and the number of wireless devices increasing, the wireless coverage footprint expands and removes the needs of wired networks for industrial applications. Wireless industrial sensor networks (WISNs) are a type of wireless sensor networks (WSNs), which dedicate to industrial applications. The WISNs bring several advantages over traditional wired industrial networks for detection and control, include flexibility, scalability, remote maintenance, and rapid deployment. However, some technical issues and routing design principles need to be noticed in terms of the stringent requirements of industrial applications. In this paper, we firstly introduce the characteristics and some routing issues of WISNs. Then we discuss existing routing protocols for WISNs and analysis their performances. Finally, we outline several future research directions.