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We study access strategies for decorrelating detection applied in multirate direct-sequence code-division multiple-access (DS/CDMA) systems, including multimodulation (MM), multicode (MC), and variable-spreading-length (VSL) schemes by jointly considering signal constellations and multiple-access interference. The mathematical analysis shows that when the number of active users is large, the MM scheme outperforms MC and VSL schemes especially for high-rate transmission. We also conclude that the design of modulation is important in MC and VSL schemes. Numerical analysis demonstrates that applying 4-PSK instead of 2-PSK in MC and VSL schemes can improve about 9 dB performance gain. In addition, by considering cross-correlation of noise components, we propose a detector that minimizes the symbol error probability under the constraint that the complexity grows linearly with the number of active users as decorrelating detectors. Simulations show that about 4 dB performance gain over conventional decorrelating detectors can be achieved for multirate DS/CDMA communications.