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A comparative study of three data-encoding techniques in optical chaotic communication systems is reported. The chaotic carrier is generated by a semiconductor laser subjected to optical feedback and the data are encoded on it by chaotic modulation (CM), chaotic masking (CMS), or chaotic shift keying (CSK) methods. In all cases, the receiver-which is directly connected to the transmitter-consists of a semiconductor laser similar to that of the transmitter subjected to the same optical feedback. The performance of this back to back configuration is numerically tested by calculating the Q-factor of the eye diagram of the received data for different bit rates from 1 to 20 Gb/s. The CM scheme appears to have the best performance relative to the CMS and CSK scheme, before and after filtering the residual high-frequency oscillations remaining due to nonperfect synchronization between the transmitter and receiver. Moreover, in all encoding methods, a decrease in the Q-factor is observed when the repetition bit-rate of the encoding message increases. In order to achieve as high Q-factor values as possible, a well-synchronized chaotic master-slave system is required.